Cost of living in Cayman up

Increased costs of housing, bumped up insurance premiums and costlier liquor and tobacco have helped boosted the cost of living in the Cayman Islands.

The annual average All Items Index for 2005 is 142.0, an increase of 7 per cent over the 2004 figure of 132.7.

These figures are reported in the latest consumer price index, which is an indicator of the cost of living. Released by the Economics and Statistics Office, the index measures the average change in consumer prices, over time, in a preset market basket of goods and services, states a GIS press release.

In 2005, the annual average index rose in six of the eight major groups. A high of 18.7 per cent was registered in the housing group, which includes rent, maintenance, insurance and utilities.

Increases in alcohol and tobacco were second with 5.2 per cent, followed by transport and communication, 3.9 per cent; food, 2.8 per cent; and personal goods and services, 2.6 per cent. The lowest rise of 2.2 per cent was in the education and medical group.

The two groups that showed a decline in 2005 were clothing, by 2.3 per cent; and household equipment, by 2.2 per cent.

Registering an overall decrease by 0.3 per cent, the all-items index for last quarter 2005 was 141.9, down from 142.3 in December 2004.

The decreases indicate that post-Ivan ripple effects are steadily working their way through the Cayman Islands economy. Although rental prices have not returned to pre-Ivan levels, they are lower than prices in the hurricane’s immediate aftermath. In the fourth quarter of 2005, housing fell by 5.9 per cent when compared to the same period in 2004.

With five of the eight major groups registering increases over last quarter 2004, these figures suggest an increased demand for goods and services generally considered to be luxury items, including personal goods and services, and clothing. During this period, the alcohol and tobacco group rose by 6.9 per cent, food by 1.7 per cent, and the education and medical group by 1.0 per cent. Price declines were recorded in the household equipment group (-3.3 per cent) with a slight decline in transport and communication (-0.3 per cent).

Prices declined by 0.4 per cent between the third and fourth quarter of 2005. The Personal Goods and Services major group registered the highest increase, 4.8 per cent reflecting the higher demand for luxury goods and services. Overall, four of the major groups declined including housing (-3.7 per cent), household equipment (-2.7 per cent) and transport and communication, and education and medical declining by less than one per cent.

More information, including tables and latest statistics on the CPI, are available on the Economics and Statistics Office website at the address: www.eso.ky and from the ESO, located on the fourth floor of Elizabethan Square. The telephone number is 949-0940.