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Springfield cost of living remains lowest in state

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When Bruce Edwards received a job offer as production planner eight months ago from Springfield manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser after earning his MBA from the University of Michigan, he was surprised at how low the offer was.

But a little market research turned him toward the idea.

“After looking at the cost of living, I realized I was going to be in a very good situation,” Edwards said. “It was much more palatable at that point and ultimately what we chose to do.”

For the second consecutive quarter, Springfield reported the lowest cost of living among the state’s seven metropolitan areas, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a branch of the state’s Department of Economic Development. The center released fourth-quarter 2010 data Jan. 26.

The city’s overall cost of living index is 88; followed by Joplin, 88.8; St. Louis, 90.4; Columbia, 91.66; St. Joseph, 92.2; Jefferson City, 92.9; and Kansas City, 97.7. The Springfield index is down slightly from the third-quarter 2010 index of 88.3.

The baseline cost of living index for the nation is 100.

Regional comparisons
Although he lived most recently in Michigan, Edwards spent six years in northern California, which ranks 48th nationwide with a cost of living index of 132.56.

“We saved for a few years for a house in California,” Edwards said. “We got married, left California to get a graduate degree and were able to buy a house right away. It was wonderful to be able to move directly into a house.”

Edwards, who last year bought a home in Battlefield, said a graduate school friend who accepted a job in northern California is making 30 percent more than Edwards but is nowhere near ready to buy a house.

Missouri’s fourth-quarter cost of living index is 91.66, eighth lowest in the nation. Each of the participating Missouri cities had a composite index below the fourth-quarter 2010 national average of 100.

MERIC derives the cost of living index for each state from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s ACCRA cost of living survey, in which cities participate on a volunteer basis. MERIC averages the indexes of participating cities and metropolitan areas.

In general, the most expensive areas to live are New England, Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast. The least expensive areas continue to be the Midwest and the South.
Of the 10 states with the lowest cost of living indexes, nine are in the Midwest or the South.

Utility factor
City Utilities of Springfield fared well on utility costs, according to a survey by the Memphis Light Gas and Water. The survey sampled rates on Oct. 1 at utility companies in 54 cities.
With an average residential utility bill of $160.20, City Utilities ranked second in monthly rates for fall 2010.

A breakdown of services and costs:

• Springfield ranked fourth in the residential electric bill category with an average monthly bill of $78.34. Jackson, Miss., was first with an average bill of $71.84.

• Residential wastewater services cost less in Springfield than most cities. The average monthly bill for residential wastewater services is $19.54, a ranking of sixth.

• Springfield finished 23rd in residential gas bills, with the average monthly bill at $34.92. El Paso, Texas, was the least expensive, at $21.68 a month.

• The city finished 18th in monthly residential water bills at $27.40. Memphis ranked first with a monthly bill of $13.10.

CU officials emphasize that the Memphis study analyzed rates after an October rate increase went into effect for CU’s new Southwest 2 power plant.

“CU has done this for many years to try to find out exactly what it means to our customers,” CU spokesman Joel Alexander said. “It just goes to show that what we do on a daily basis of making sure everything is reliable and affordable is holding true.”

CU also participates in the Lincoln Electric study, which Alexander said would be released in a couple of months.

He added that those two are considered benchmark studies by utility officials.[[In-content Ad]]


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