COLUMBIA — The 2009 cost of living figures for Columbia look promising.
Columbia received a composite rating of 91.1 for 2009 in the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association's Cost of Living Index. That's 8.9 percent below the nationwide average of 100 for the year.
The rating means that Columbians spend $91.10 on merchandise that in the average city would cost $100.
“Missouri’s one of the least expensive states to live,” said Don Laird, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
The American Chamber of Commerce Research Association compiled the data for its index from around the nation. It includes costs of consumer goods and services but does not account for inflation. Because the data is collected at a single point in time, researchers are unable to make a quarterly or yearly comparison.
The Columbia index combined six components: grocery items rated at 94.9; housing at 80.2; utilities at 92.9; transportation at 91.3; health care at 95.6; and miscellaneous goods and services at 98.
Laird said Columbia is in good shape compared to Kansas City, which had a composite index of 96.3, and New York, which had the highest index in the country at 214.7, according to the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Web site. Jefferson City's cost of living was low as well at 89.8.
Mike Brooks, president of Regional Economic Development Inc., said "a big part of the difference between New York and Columbia is the housing cost."
Brooks previously conducted an American Chamber of Commerce Research Association survey for a different community. He emphasized the importance of the cost-of-living numbers for someone considering where to live.
"When I was looking at job opportunities, I was using these tools to help evaluate a good place to live," Brooks said.
Laird said the data is important to young people as well. “If you’re graduating college, it gives you an idea of what you need to know," he said.
Missourian reporter Adam Stillman contributed to this report.