Thu February 17, 2011
Area CPI more than double the national level
The costs of goods and services in the St. Louis region rose 2.5 percent between the last six months of 2009 and the last six months of 2010 - more than double the national rate over that same time.
Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics data show electricity prices going up 13.1 percent and motor fuel going up 10.1 percent, bureau economist Jacqueline Michael Midkiff says they weren't the real drivers of the increase.
Even when volatile areas like food and energy are excluded, the CPI in St. Louis was up 2 percent, compared to less than 1 percent nationally.
"When you combine the increases in the items that are not food and energy, they actually had a larger impact that either of the food or energy indexes alone," Midkiff says. She points to areas like recreation, housing, and transportation, all of which increased last year after barely growing or even declining the year before.
University of Missouri-St. Louis economics professor Michael Allison says inflation in St. Louis tends to run slightly below the national average. He says St. Louis wasn't hit as hard by the housing crisis, and that's causing the current gap in rates.
"Our housing costs did not decrease as much as they did in the rest of the country. What that means is that our prices went up overall a little more because the housing component didn’t drop," he says.
Midkiff says it's too soon to tell if rising costs signal a rebounding economy.