Wasatch Front grocery prices and the overall cost of living rose twice as high as the national average last month, according to the Wells Fargo Consumer Price Index issued today in Salt Lake City.

Local grocery prices rose by 2.3 percent last month, compared to the 1.2 percent increase nationally, based on nonseasonally adjusted numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past five months, local food prices went up 5 percent. Nationally, they rose 3.5 percent.

Overall, the local cost of living went up 1.1 percent in July, compared to 0.5 percent nationally. In five months, it's gone up 4.2 percent locally and 3.9 percent nationwide.

Other big increases included the cost of utilities, up 4.6 percent locally and 4 percent nationally. Transportation was up 1.2 percent locally and 0.5 percent nationally, with a five-month increase of 11.9 percent on both scales, mostly because of gas prices.

Core inflation, which includes costs of everything but energy and food, stayed the same at 0.3 percent nationally for July. But it is still 2.5 percent above what it was last year.

Wells Fargo economist and Executive Vice President Kelly Matthews noted prices reflect those of a month ago, before national gas prices started to fall. He expects next month's transportation costs, at least nationally, to come down.

As for Utah's gas prices at fourth highest in the country, Matthews noted Moody's Economy.com reports extraordinary pressure on oil refineries. But he said that pressure might not be as intense in terms of competition between gas stations to keep prices down.


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