From the figures Kinexus collected, it appears living in Berrien County became more costly in the first quarter of 2014.
From a Kinexus media release:
NEW COST OF LIVING NUMBERS RELEASED
The Carpe Data department at Kinexus just released an infographic featuring local data from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s quarterly Cost of Living Index (COLI). The COLI provides comparative data on the cost of living in nearly three hundred urban areas across the nation. The infographic compares Berrien County to other nearby areas that reported data including: Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Elkhart, Detroit, South Bend, and Kalamazoo.
From the figures Kinexus collected, it appears living in Berrien County became more costly in the first quarter of 2014. The research, which looked at the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous goods and services found that Berrien County’s cost of living overall is 93 percent of the national average. This is a 1.4 percent increase over third quarter 2013, which was the last time Berrien County numbers were collected.
The cost of Berrien County’s groceries skyrocketed first quarter to 97 percent of the national average. That’s a whopping 8.4 percent increase over the previously measured quarter. Surrounding areas also saw swells between 4.7 (South Bend) and 9.7 percent (Grand Rapids).
Kinexus Business Resource Analyst Matt Kodis attributes the jump in grocery prices to winter weather that brought the state to a virtual standstill. “Prices were measured a week after the polar vortex; disruptions in supply chain were probably still being worked out,” Kodis said. He went on to explain that all 288 regions who participated in this COLI collected their data in the same week as prescribed by the Council for Community and Economic Research.
Of the seven Michigan and Northern Indiana regions Carpe Data compared, Berrien County’s housing costs increased the most growing 3.8 percent over last quarter to 83.4 percent of the national average. Housing locally remains significantly less expensive than in Ann Arbor where one would pay 114.8 percent of the national average, or in Detroit where housing is 91.3 percent of the national average. Kalamazoo has the least expensive housing at only 71.4 percent of the national average. The South Bend area saw the biggest decrease in housing costs since third quarter 2013 falling 7.7 percent.
Berrien County appears in the middle of the pack at 95.7 percent the national average for utilities. Of the areas compared, South Bend is the lowest at 82.7 percent of the national average and Ann Arbor the highest at 103.5 percent. Kodis says Berrien County got hit with a double whammy when the Michigan Public Service Commission approved rate hikes for both Indiana Michigan Power and Michigan Gas Utilities effective January 1, 2014.
There was good news all around in the transportation category with all regions in the Carpe Data report falling between 2.7 and 7.8 percent. Berrien County fell 4.8 percent to 97.1 percent of the national average. Kodis attributes this decrease to the lower cost of gas during the winter months.
“Winter blend gasoline is cheaper to produce than summer blend since it contains fewer additives,” he said.
Berrien County remained in the middle of Michigan and Northern Indiana regions for healthcare at 94.8 percent of the national average. While local healthcare did get more expensive, the change in the nation’s numbers as a whole outpaced local growth by 8 percent. Detroit saw the biggest change from the last study dropping 6.8 percent to 96.5 percent of the national average.
In the miscellaneous goods and services category, which can include anything from a haircut to a tube of tennis balls, Berrien County prices went down a little bit to 96.4 percent of the national average, a 1.3 percent decrease. The only area that saw significant change in this category was South Bend, which shrunk 4.5 percent since third quarter 2013.
Rather than collecting fourth quarter data, the Council for Community and Economic Research produces an annual average index based on data from the previous three quarters. Since Kinexus started providing numbers for Berrien County during the third quarter last year, Berrien County did not receive any annual index numbers. Therefore, quarterly comparisons in this release are to the last numbers Kinexus submitted in third quarter 2013.
Carpe Data can provide statistics and projections on just about anything. Carpe Data’s recent publications, which include everything from commuter traffic patterns to wage and benefit reports, can be found on Kinexus.org under resources and data. A full report with cost of living data for the Michigan metro areas in the COLI, in addition to areas surrounding South Bend and Elkhart, can also be found on Kinexus.org under resources and data or by clicking here.
For more information on Carpe Data and its services, please contact Matt Kodis at 269.927.1064 x1115 or KodisM@kinexus.org.
Kinexus is a nonprofit organization that connects people, investments, and organizations with strategies and services that make Southwest Michigan region a great place to live, work, and play. We are dedicated to creating solutions for business, workforce, and community challenges that promote economic vitality in the southwest Michigan region. For more information, go to www.Kinexus.org and follow us on Twitter @KinexusGroup and Facebook at facebook.com/KinexusGroup.