We ended 2014 with a composite index of 97.9, meaning that the costs to live here were 2.1% below the national average of 100.0%. That’s good, but we have already improved on those numbers! For the first quarter of 2015, our composite index dropped to 96.4. That’s terrific—3.6% below the national average!
The Prescott Chamber collects the data for these quarterly reports and sends the information to the Council for Community and Economic Research in Arlington, Virginia. C2ER then puts all the collected information into their computers and out comes the final report. For this quarter, 265 metropolitan areas participated.
The composite index is the final measurement of each metropolitan area, but each composite index is further broken down into six categories or sub-indexes. For example, the first sub-index is for grocery items. Prescott’s number was a very respectable 93.4 (again versus the national average of 100.0), meaning that grocery costs here were 6.6% below the national average. Next comes housing and not too surprisingly, we are higher than the national average, but only by 1.3% with a composite index of 101.3.
Our utility expenses traditionally are lower than the national average and this quarter was no exception at 95.2. Transportation costs came in at 99.7; health care costs were 95.0 and miscellaneous goods and services were 92.0. Altogether, a very respectable quarter for the Prescott area.
What about other Arizona communities? Six other metropolitan areas took part in this cost-of-living study. Those areas and their composite indexes include Bullhead City (91.7), Lake Havasu City (101.6), Phoenix metro (93.6), Sierra Vista/Douglas (96.4), Tucson (93.3) and Yuma (101.6). Flagstaff usually takes part in this survey but did not submit information for the first quarter of 2015.
This is helpful information to anyone thinking of moving here and it provides useful information as well to our economic development efforts. Over the years, the cost-of-living figures have dropped when compared to other communities. That doesn’t mean that the actual costs have decreased, but it does mean that the Prescott area can be very competitive with many other communities in Arizona, the Southwest and the nation.