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Food, fuel, clothing prices push up NY metro inflation

Chicken

Chicken Credit: Photos.com

Higher prices for food, gasoline, travel and spring clothing last month helped drive up inflation 0.5 percent in the New York metropolitan area, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

February’s inflation uptick followed January’s 0.3 percent gain in the 31-county region that includes Long Island. Prices had been flat in November and December of last year.

Prices grew faster in February than at any time in the past 11 months, according to Michael L. Dolfman, regional commissioner for the federal Labor Department, which oversees the bureau. For the year ended in February, he said, the regional Consumer Price Index rose 2.1 percent, the highest annual rate since May 2010.

Higher costs for chicken, cheese, tomatoes, snacks and frozen foods helped increase overall grocery prices last month by 0.5 percent from January. Restaurant meals and takeout food increased by 0.3 percent.

Gasoline prices continued to climb, albeit at a slower pace than the 3 percent to 5 percent seen in the October-through-January period. Pump prices rose 1.5 percent in February.

However, gas prices have jumped a whopping 19 percent in the past year.

The cost of natural gas and home heating oil also increase in February by 1.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. Electricity prices dropped 1.1 percent.

With boutiques, department stores and other retailers preparing for warmer weather, clothing prices rose 3.2 percent as spring merchandise hit the racks. Costs also increased for airfares and car insurance, but were unchanged for housing.

The regional price index mirrored the national index, which also increased 0.5 percent in February. However, gas prices rose 4.7 percent nationwide and clothing costs fell 0.9 percent.

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