Consumer prices in the metropolitan area fell slightly last month compared with a year ago because of a steep drop in the cost of gasoline.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its consumer price index for the 31-county region that includes Long Island dropped 0.1 percent in July compared with July 2014.

The price index has dropped, year over year, four times since January.

The declines have been due in large part to less expensive gasoline. In July, pump prices were down 25.3 percent compared to the same time a year earlier.

The cost of natural gas and electricity also were off 14.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

However, the lower energy prices were offset somewhat by higher housing prices.

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Residential rents were up 2.9 percent in July compared with a year ago.

The cost of groceries rose 0.1 percent. Clothing and medical care increased 1.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.