Wilmington’s cost of living dropped slightly in the first quarter of 2017 from that same time period last year, according to a national survey released by the ACCRA.
The Wilmington area saw an overall composite index of 96.1 in 2017, down from the first quarter of 2016 at 96.8, in numbers reported by Wilmington Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. The figures are based on a national average index of 100.
Local data is collected by the chamber and submitted to ACCRA for the survey. The Cost of Living Index measures the cost of consumer goods and services between cities for a middle-class standard of living, according to the release. The most recent study included 265 participating urban areas in the United States.
Cost of Living results released by the chamber included seven select Southern cities: Wilmington; Durham; Charlotte; Asheville; Charleston, South Carolina; Washington, D.C.; and Norfolk, Virginia.
Wilmington had the third lowest composite index among those cities at 96.1, below national average. The highest was Washington D.C. at 153.3 and the lowest was Durham at 88.3.
The chamber’s release also included six categories; housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods. The composite index is derived from each of these categories.
Wilmington ranked highest among the seven cities in the category of health care at 118.4. The next highest was Asheville a 103.4, and the lowest in the chamber’s list of cities for health care was Durham at 94.3.
"While we have not yet had an opportunity to evaluate the information in this report, it appears to conflict with well documented, publicly available information on Wilmington Health's cost profile," Wilmington Health CEO Jeff James said when asked about the health care score.
"We look forward to reviewing the details of the report to see if it syncs up to our analysis of the cost drivers within the community," he added.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center officials did not comment on the report as of Friday afternoon.
In the grocery category, Wilmington had the second-highest score at 104.3, behind Washington, D.C., at 117.3. The city also had the second-highest score in transportation, at 108.4, again behind Washington, D.C., at 114.8.
A category Wilmington had one of the lowest scores was in housing at 82.6, just above Durham at 77.2.
Paul D’Angelo, chairman of the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, said, “I think that outside some of the high rent areas like the downtown central business district and the beaches, it’s still possible to find housing that fits the everyday budget for the most part here in Wilmington.”
That’s especially for those who are flexible with having a roommate, smaller home or a more affordable location, he said. Though the overall trend still shows the housing market increasing.
The housing market search on a budget is also getting tough for those with lower incomes, those with children, people with disabilities and seniors.
The full Cost of Living study results are based on more than 90,000 data points covering 400 different cities that are gathered by area chambers of commerce, economic development groups or similar organizations in each urban area during the same thee-day timeframe, according to the release.