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FIRST DROP IN PITTSBURGH AREA RETAIL PRICES SINCE FEBRUARY; SEASONAL DECLINE IN APPAREL PRICES RESPONSIBLE

 PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Retail prices in the Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), fell 0.3 percent for the two-month period ended December 1992, the first bi-monthly decline since February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
 Alan M. Paisner, the bureau's regional commissioner, noted that the drop was entirely due to a seasonal decline in apparel commodities prices. The CPI-U for Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties stood 2.2 percent higher in December of this year than 12 months ago, as prices for all categories were higher since last December. (See table A.) Nearly two-thirds of the over-the-year advance was attributable to three components -- housing, transportation, and other goods and services.
 The apparel and upkeep index fell 5.9 percent since October -- the largest decline in over four years -- due mainly to lower prices for women's and girls' apparel, women's coats and jackets and separates, in particular. Although women's and girls' apparel prices normally fall over the bi-monthly period ending December, the 12.4 percent decline was the largest drop since bi-monthly data became available in June 1978.
 The housing index showed no change since October as a decline in shelter was mostly offset by advances in prices for household furnishings and operation and household fuels. Fuels and other utilities were up 0.1 percent since October despite a 5.7 percent decrease in fuel oil prices.
 Food and beverage prices fell 0.1 percent since October, due mainly to an identical drop in alcoholic beverages prices over the same period. Grocery prices, which are surveyed monthly by the bureau, advanced 0.8 percent in December negating a 0.8 percent decline in November. An 8.0 percent increase in prices for cereals and bakery products (in particular, bakery products) -- the largest advance in over 19 years -- caused the rise in grocery prices.
 The transportation index rose 0.2 percent over the last two months -- the fifth consecutive bi-monthly increase -- due to higher new vehicles prices, particularly for new cars. Moderating the effect of higher new vehicles prices was a 5.8 percent drop in public transportation due to decreased airline fares.
 The CPI-U for the Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley area stood at 137.3 on the 1982-84 equals 100 reference base, which means that a market basket of goods and services which averaged $100.00 in the 1982-84 period would have cost $137.30 in December. The local Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) fell 0.2 percent since October to 131.4, up 2.1 percent over the year.
 Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers
 (CPI-U) in the Pittsburgh-Beaver Valley area
 (not seasonally adjusted)
 Change for Change for
 two months ended 12 months
 Expenditure Aug. Oct. Dec. ended
 category 1992 1992 1992 Dec. 1992
 All items 1.3 0.6 -0.3 2.2
 Food & beverages -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 1.4
 Housing 2.1 -0.8 0.0 1.3
 Apparel & upkeep 2.3 9.5 -5.9 2.4
 Transportation 0.5 1.1 0.2 2.5
 Medical care 2.1 1.3 0.6 4.4
 Entertainment 0.2 0.5 0.9 1.4
 Other goods
 & services 1.7 -0.5 1.1 5.9
 Special index:
 Energy -0.1 -0.6 -0.8 -1.9
 -0- 1/15/93
 /CONTACT: Michelle Weihmann, information, 215-596-1154, or Maureen Greene, media, 215-596-1157, both of U.S. Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics/


CO: U.S. Labor Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics ST: Pennsylvania IN: HOU SU: ECO

DM -- PG007 -- 5251 01/15/93 09:42 EST
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Date:Jan 15, 1993
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