Cost of living stable in metro area
Statistics show some expenses declined from 2008 levels
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The cost of living in the Portland-Vancouver-Salem metropolitan area remained tame in the second half of 2009, according to a report Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While gas prices increased from earlier in the year, they remained below 2008 levels, providing fresh evidence that inflation is not an issue for the still-weak local economy. The data mirrors national inflation trends.
The Portland metro area saw an overall inflation rate of 0.5 percent in the second half of 2009 as compared with the same period in 2008, said the bureau report.
Some costs actually dropped:
• Food purchased at grocery stores declined an overall 3.3 percent.
• Apparel costs were down 1.7 percent.
• Gasoline dropped 14 percent.
• Recreation costs were down 6.7 percent.
The bureau tracks a “basket full” of consumer items to develop both regional and national cost-of-living indexes. The Portland area consumer price index advanced to 217.19 in the second half of 2009. That means that a market basket of goods and services that cost $100 in 1982-84 would have cost $217.19 at the end of last year.
Some costs last year defied the weak economy. Medical care increased 7.4 percent in the 12 months through December, said the bureau. Rising health care costs continue to be a concern for health insurance companies and providers in the region, as well as nationally.
Housing showed a more modest increase of 1.2 percent, with rental housing costs up 2.2 percent.
As recently as mid-2007, the annual inflation rate was running at 3.4 percent a year, with gasoline costs up 15 percent, medical care up 12.2 percent and housing up 3 percent.
Experts including financial planners and economists have tracked an average annual inflation rate in the U.S. of about 3 percent for the past 20 years.