Following two months of increases, First Security Corp. says the cost of living for Wasatch Front residents dropped one-tenth of one percentage point in October, compared with a 0.4 percent increase nationally.
For the past six months, local costs have decreased 0.1 percent, and for the past three months they are down 0.2 percent.Kelly K. Matthews, economist for First Security, which conducts a monthly consumer price index survey, said the October rate of deflation locally, if annualized on a 12-month basis, would be 12.2 percent.
Although local prices of clothing, groceries and health care went up - the latter for the eighth month in a row - they were more than offset by declines in prices of food eaten out, transportation, housing and utilities.
Over the past eight months, since First Security began keeping its price index, total costs of some 500 goods and services have declined 0.6 percent. Matthews said the percent of change reflects a weighted average of the various categories as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here is how prices fared locally in October for the seven basic categories monitored in the First Security index:
- Clothing expenses reversed their September trend with an increase of 1.3 percent. Lower price tags were recorded for men's wear but were offset by higher prices for children's clothes - the third month of increases - and for women's apparel, reversing the September downward trend.
In the past six months, clothing costs have decreased 0.3 percent, with 0.2 percent of that coming in the past three months.
- Grocery prices increased for the fourth month in a row, up 0.4 percent. Decreases for produce and alcoholic beverages were offset by increases for meat and shelf items. Eggs were down 9.7 percent, bread declined 4.0 percent, soft drinks were down 1.3 percent. Refried beans led increases with a 9.2 percent hike, sugar up 8.3 percent, milk up 3.3 percent, coffee up 3.2 percent and meat up 0.1 percent. Food costs have jumped 5.9 percent over the past six months.
- Health care costs were up 0.1 percent as lower costs for a doctor's care were offset by a fourth month of higher prices on non-prescription drugs. Health-care costs have increased every month since March when the survey began. In the past six months, costs increased 2.8 percent.
- Restaurant food costs declined 3.6 percent in October, the second consecutive month that the cost of eating out went down. A 1.9 percent decline has been measured over the past six months and a larger, 2.7 percent, drop in the past three months.
- Transportation expenses along the Wasatch Front fell for a second month, down 2.9 percent in October, attributed to a second month of lower prices for both gasoline and auto maintenance. Costs are down 2.1 percent for the past six months.
- Housing costs reversed their September trend and declined 1.6 percent. Lower rental charges were responsible. Housing costs are down 3.2 percent in the past six months.
- Utility bills for Wasatch Front residents were lower by 1 percent in October after a September increase. Higher water rates, up 1.4 percent, were offset by 2.2 percent lower gas bills. Electrical power bills were stable. Utilities are up 3.6 percent for the six months with nearly all of it, 3.5 percent, coming in the past three months.