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Metro area prices inch up, led by rent, medical care

Although the cost of gasoline fell 6.8 percent

Although the cost of gasoline fell 6.8 percent between last month and September of 2015, other consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose modestly compared with a year ago. Photo Credit: Newsday File / John Paraskevas

Consumer prices in the metropolitan area rose modestly last month compared with a year ago on higher residential rents.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that its consumer price index for the 31-county region that includes Long Island climbed 1 percent in September compared with a year earlier.

Year-over-year changes in the index have been 1 percent or less since April, according to Martin Kohli, the bureau’s chief regional economist.

In September, residential rents increased 2.9 percent compared with a year ago.

The cost of medical care was up 5.8 percent year over year.

Offsetting these increases somewhat were lower prices for energy and groceries.

The cost of gasoline fell 6.8 percent between last month and September 2015. Electricity was down 3/10ths of 1 percent in the same period while natural gas was up 4/10ths of 1 percent.

Grocery prices declined 2.4 percent in September compared with a year ago. However, restaurant meals cost 3.2 percent more than in 2015.

The bureau also announced a slight downward revision of the index’s June increase, from 1 percent to 9/10ths of 1 percent, because of incorrect prices for prescription drugs from May through August.

Kohli said Tuesday it was the first time in his 25 years at the bureau that the metro-area index had to be revised.

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