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FIRST SECURITY REPORTS WASATCH FRONT COST OF LIVING DROPS

 FIRST SECURITY REPORTS WASATCH FRONT COST OF LIVING DROPS
 SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The cost of living in the Wasatch Front area fell 0.8 percent during January, the second consecutive monthly decline, according to First Security Bank's monthly Wasatch Front Area Cost of Living Report.
 First Security chief economist Dr. Kelly K. Matthews said the local decrease compared with a 0.1 percent increase on a nonseasonally adjusted basis reported nationally today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 The Wasatch Front Area Inflation Index (March 1988 - 100) was 109.9, compared with 118.1 calculated nationwide from the same base month. The total percentage change reflects a weighted average of the individual categories, the weights being determined by the spending patterns of the average family budget, as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 First Security said local increases measured for clothing, health care, utilities, and grocery prices were offset by decreases for transportation and restaurant prices. Housing expenses remained stable for the month.
 Wasatch Front area clothing costs increased 3.6 percent in January, after two months of decreases, compared with a 1.3 percent decline nationwide. A second month of lower price tags locally on women's apparel was offset by a second month of higher prices for men's wear and higher prices for children's clothing.
 For the third consecutive month, health care expenses rose locally. The January rate of increase was 1.7 percent, compared with a 0.9 percent increase nationally. Higher local costs were recorded for hospital and dental care, non-prescription medicines and doctor's services. During the past six months, a 3.8 percent increase has been seen for local health care costs, which compares with a 3.7 percent gain nationally.
 Following a stable month in December, residential utility bills along the Wasatch Front rose an average 0.4 percent in January. Gas rates declined 0.2 percent, while electric rates broke a three-month stable trend with an increase of 2.6 percent during the month. Local utility bills have risen 7.6 percent during the past six months, according to First Security.
 Local grocery prices rose for the third month in a row in January. The rate of increase was 0.1 percent, compared with a national increase of 0.7 percent. Local decreases measured for meat and shelf items were offset by increases for alcoholic beverages and produce.
 Wasatch Front transportation expenses led the overall decrease in January with a 4.4 percent decline. This compared with a national decline of 0.6 percent in transportation expenses for the month. During the past six months, local transportation expenses have fallen 7.0 percent, while national transportation costs have risen 0.9 percent, according to the report.
 The cost of dining out in the Wasatch Front area fell for the third month in a row in January. The percentage decline was 3.0 percent, compared with a 0.1 percent increase nationwide. Higher prices for main dishes prepared with beef were offset by a second month of lower prices for vegetable dishes. During the past six months, however, local restaurant prices have increased 1.4 percent.
 Local housing costs remained stable in January, following five consecutive months of increases, according to First Security.
 Price data for the First Security Bank Wasatch Front Area Cost of Living Report are produced by an independent research firm.
 FIRST SECURITY BANK
 Cost of Living Index
 January 1992
 WASATCH FRONT
 Index Pct. Chg. (Non-seas. Adj.)
 March 1988-100 6 Mos. Prior 1 Mo. Prior
 All Categories 109.9 1.7 -0.8
 Housing 115.8 4.7 0.0
 Transportation 106.2 -7.0 -4.4
 Health Care 116.8 3.8 1.7
 Food at Home 119.2 3.9 0.1
 Clothing 110.1 5.5 3.6
 Food Away 109.9 1.4 -3.0
 Utilities 96.1 7.6 0.4
 Other 104.0 0.7 -0.4
 NATIONAL
 Index Pct. Chg. (Non-seas. Adj.) (Seas. Adj.)
 March 1988-100 6 Mos. 1 Mo. 1 Mo.
 Prior Prior Prior
 All Categories 118.1pct. 1.3 0.1 0.1pct.
 Housing 115.6 1.0 0.5 0.2
 Transportation 116.9 0.9 -0.6 -0.3
 Health Care 133.7 3.7 0.9 0.7
 Food at Home 120.8 1.2 0.7 -0.7
 Clothing 112.0 2.3 -1.3 0.3
 Food Away 115.9 0.8 0.1 0.1
 Utilities 113.2 -0.1 0.2 -0.3
 Other 131.3 4.5 0.6 0.3
 National Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
 -0- 2/19/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Kelly Matthews of First Security Bank, 801-350-5582/ CO: First Security Bank ST: Utah IN: FIN SU:


MC -- DV007 -- 0526 02/19/92 14:16 EST
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Date:Feb 19, 1992
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