Greater Boston Inflation Slightly Lags National Trend

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By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Consumer prices nationwide are 3.1 percent higher than they were one year ago, but prices have not climbed quite as fast over the same span in the Greater Boston area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

The “Boston-Cambridge-Newton” region (which includes Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk counties in Massachusetts as well as Rockingham and Strafford counties in New Hampshire) saw a 2 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index from January 2023 to January 2024, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Food prices in the region were up 4.7 percent on the year while energy prices fell 13.8 percent. Excluding both food and energy prices, the Consumer Price Index increased 3 percent over the year.

Across December and January, Greater Boston consumer prices climbed 0.7 percent, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics said reflects “higher prices for shelter and food that were partially offset by lower prices for energy.” Food prices overall were up 0.7 percent for the two months, including a 1.2 percent increase in the price of groceries and a 0.1 percent increase in the price of food outside of the home.

Declining gas prices (down 7.8 percent across December and January) helped to push the overall price of energy down 2 percent over the last two months, despite household energy costs being up 2.1 percent (including electricity rising 4.1 percent over the two months).

Backing food and energy out of the equation for December and January, consumer prices were up 1 percent. The cost of clothes was up 5 percent and the cost of household furnishings and operations was up nearly 2 percent.

Nationally, inflation is still taking a bite out of household budgets and buying power. While prices nationally rose 3.1 percent in the last year, average hourly earnings for workers increased just 1.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The agency added that the change in real average hourly earnings combined with a 1.4 percent decrease in the average workweek hours actually resulted in a 0.1 percent decrease in real average weekly earnings over the year.


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