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Declines in energy costs lead to dip in local consumer prices

The cost of food remained virtually unchanged as

The cost of food remained virtually unchanged as an August rise in restaurant prices was offset by a drop in home food costs.   Credit: Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Consumer prices in the metropolitan area inched downward in August, driven in part by decreased energy costs and unchanged food costs, according to a report released Friday. 

The consumer price index for the 25-county region that includes Long Island dipped 0.1% last month compared with July, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said. On an annual basis, consumer prices were up 1.4% in the region. 

Partly responsible for the slight decline in local consumer prices was a 1.8% drop in energy prices last month. Electricity, which normally sees a decline in August, declined by 4.1% last month. The cost of food remained unchanged as a 0.7% uptick in restaurant food prices was offset by a 0.5% decline in home food costs last month.  

Also contributing to the local dip was the price of gasoline, which fell 0.6% in August from July and is down 20.9% from the same month last year.

“Gasoline prices continue to be relatively low,” said Martin Kohli, the bureau’s chief regional economist. “People who own cars, they are benefiting from relatively lower gasoline costs.”

The price of all items minus the impact of food and energy, increased 1.8% over the last year, due primarily to a 1.7% increase in annual housing costs in the region.

On a national, seasonally unadjusted level, consumer price changes were similar to those in the region, rising 0.3% from July into August. Annually, the national consumer price index reported a 1.3% increase. 


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