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Labor Department’s Report Indicates A Rise In Inflation During August

Although retail prices rose modestly month-to-month, island’s inflation rose 5.8% over the year.


October 5, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The closely watched Consumer Price Index–a statistical measure of the average of prices of a specific set of goods and services purchased by wage earners in urban areas–increased in April 2000, according to a last week’s report by the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources.

Month-to-month, local retail prices rose by 0.4% in August, following increases of 0.3% in July and 1.2% in June.

The local Consumer Price Index (CPI) currently uses 1984 as its base period. The CPI level of 181.1 registered in August 2000, means that it costs $181.1 to purchase the same basket of goods and services that cost $100 in April 1984.

Moreover, consumer’s prices rose 5.8% from August 1999 to August 2000. According to the Labor Department’s figures, this represents the third highest inflation boost registered for a month of August. In fact, the two highest inflation hikes were recorded in August 1999 (6.4%) and August 1990 (6.0%).

Although purchasing power of the consumer dollar remained steady at 55 cents from July to August, the consumer dollar declined from 58 cents in August, 1999 to 55 cents in August, 2000.

For the 12-month period ended in April 2000, the biggest percentage change in retail prices was transportation with 9.9%, followed by food and beverages (6.7%), other goods and services (5.8%), housing (4.2%), education and recreation (2.4%), and medical care (2.0%).

However, clothing and shoes are cheaper this year. Within the survey, prices of apparel and related services edged down by 0.4%. According to the CPI report, the reduction was the result of a decrease in the price of footwear (-7.7%), followed by accessories (-4.7%), men’s and boy’s apparel (-1.7%), and sewing materials (-1.4%).

Within the transportation group, a large increase was registered in public transportation with 16.3%, followed by an increase of 7.8% in the price of private transportation. Both prices were driven by higher fuel prices.

According to the Labor Department, the price variation in food and beverages was due to an 8.3% increase in the price of groceries. Within that category, the biggest increase was registered in fruits and vegetables (11.3%), followed by meats, poultry, fish, and eggs (10.1%), dairy products (2.0%), and cereals and bakery products (0.7%).

Among other goods and services, the highest price hike was reported in tobacco and related products with 9.0% (mainly in the price of cigarettes), followed by an increase of 8.1% in other miscellaneous expenses, such as personal loan interest.

For housing, the largest increase was in house furnishings and services (6.1%). Within that category, fuel and its derivatives (such as fluid gas) rose by 11.1%, followed by housekeeping supplies and services (7.4%), and textiles and plastics (3.6%).

The increase in the cost of education and recreation was due to a 4.3% rise in educational expenses, such as tuition fees and monthly payments for education, and recreation services (2.0%).

The retail price of medical care was affected by a 6.1% increase in the price of medicine and related products, such as medications for eyes, ears, and nose. The price of professional medical services rose 0.4%.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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