The Cost of Living Went Down in March

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Falling prices for gasoline and clothing were the main reason for the dip, which was the first this year.

You may not have felt it, but the government says getting by got cheaper last month.

The Consumer Price Index, which the Labor Department uses to measure inflation, dropped 0.2 percent in March. That’s after rising 0.7 percent in February, so even a small decline is a welcome development.

A survey of economists’ forecasts had averaged out to no change, Bloomberg says. That suggests the drop wasn’t expected.

Here’s what else has gotten less expensive: The average price for a gallon of gas dropped 11 cents this week to $3.53, a decline of 3 percent since the start of April.

Clothing costs dropped a full percentage point last month, which was the biggest decrease in more than 10 years. That was largely attributed to price drops for baby clothes, men’s socks and men’s underwear. So, stock up? Energy costs also dropped 2.6 percent.

Here’s what went up, on average: car prices, both used (1.2 percent) and new (0.1 percent), and health care (0.3 percent).

Average food prices held steady, although Bloomberg notes that Starbucks has promised to drop prices on some packaged coffee products sold in grocery stores.

Other government reports showed that new home construction rose by 7 percent and hourly pay increased by 0.2 percent.

Stacy Johnson

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