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Housing, grocery costs drove up consumer prices in July

The cost of housing increased 1.8%, year over

The cost of housing increased 1.8%, year over year and housing costs represent a larger percentage of most consumers' budgets. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

Consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose modestly in July compared with a year earlier on the higher cost of housing and groceries.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday its consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island climbed 1.7% last month compared with July 2019.

“Price increases for shelter drove the 12-month change,” said Martin Kohli, the bureau’s chief regional economist, adding the cost of housing increased 1.8%, year over year.

While other spending categories rose by higher percentages, housing costs are given greater weight in the price index because housing represents a larger percentage of most consumers’ budgets.

Grocery prices continued to rise in July but at a slower rate than during the height of the coronavirus pandemic when some commodities were in short supply.

The cost of food at home increased 5.3% last month compared with July 2019, with the largest rise in cereals and baked goods, 7.5%; and meats, poultry, fish and eggs, 6.9%.

Still, July’s year-over-year increase in the price index was identical to the increase seen between July 2018 and July 2019.

The cost of recreation rose 5.3% last month compared with July 2019. Medical care prices were up 4.7%.

The cost of automobiles and school fees climbed 3.7% and 4.2%, respectively, year over year.

Electricity prices increased 5.1% last month compared with July 2019. Natural gas prices rose 0.9%.

These increases were partially offset by a 22.1% drop in gasoline prices, year over year. Also, the cost of clothing was down 2.1%.

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