Consumer prices in the Washington area jumped 1.1 percent during June and July, following a meager 0.2 percent rise the previous two months, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
For the 12 months ended in July, the consumer price index for the area rose 4.9 percent -- far more than the 3.6 percent inflation rate for the nation as a whole. Since May, the index has risen 0.5 percent nationally, compared with more than 1 percent in Washington.
Higher housing costs accounted for most of the increase in June and July. The housing price index rose 2.4 percent; homeowners' expenses increased 3.8 percent and renters' expenses rose 2.6 percent. Prices for furniture, natural gas and fuel oil declined, while those for electricity, housekeeping services and telephone services increased.
Food and beverage costs were unchanged from May to July, in line with the national pattern of moderation of food prices. Grocery store food prices were unchanged on average, and prices of food consumed away from home dropped 0.1 percent, Labor said.
Cereal and bakery product prices rose 0.4 percent in June, then declined 1.3 percent in July. The index for meats, poultry and fish dropped 0.8 percent in July and rose 0.4 percent in June. Dairy products prices rose slightly last month, increasing 0.4 percent in July and 0.7 percent in June. Fruit and vegetable prices dropped 0.9 percent in July, following a 0.3 percent rise in June.
Transportation costs increased 0.2 percent since May as automobile insurance, motor fuel and maintenance and repairs costs rose. Prices declined for automobiles, tires and finance charges.
Apparel and upkeep costs dropped 2.5 percent as prices declined for women's, girls' and men's clothing. Medical care costs increased 2.1 percent since May.