The first three quarters of each year, more than 300 urban areas in the United States price nearly 60 different items and submit those prices to C2ER, The Council for Community and Economic Research, for compilation, analysis and publication in the quarterly ACCRA Cost of Living Index report. In the fourth quarter of each year, C2ER publishes an unweighted average of data  accumulated during the previous three pricing events of the year. This annual report for 2009 was released the end of January. Wichita participates in this program twice a year.

The 2009 annual average Cost of Living Index for the Wichita area was 90.6, more than 9 Index points below the U.S. average of 100. The most expensive place to live in 2009 was New York (Manhattan), N.Y., with an Index value of 217.2, more than twice the national average. The least expensive place to live was Pryor Creek, Okla., with an Index value of 83.6.

The Index is comprised of six components: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. Wichita’s Index values for all of these components were below the national annual average in 2009.

From first quarter through third quarter, a half gallon of milk and a dozen eggs had the highest average percentage changes. The average price of milk for 322 urban areas was $1.99, a 14 percent increase from first to third quarter. The national average price of eggs was $1.53, a 28 percent change from first to third quarter. The average annual price of milk in Wichita was $1.82 and $1.24 for eggs. The range of prices for milk was $3.64 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to $1.40 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The range of prices for eggs was $3.26 in Truckee-Nevada County, Calif., to $0.93 in the Augusta-Aiken, GA-SC MSA.

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