A national economic research group just published an updated comprehensive cost-of-living index for U.S cities. The study unearthed some interesting findings about Portland.
The Arlington, Va., Council for Community and Economic Research, or C2ER, has been publishing a cost-of-living index for the past 50 years. The data represents a side-by-side comparison of the cost of more than 60 goods and services for 269 U.S. cities. Those goods and services are also collectively grouped into six different categories: housing, transportation, grocery items, health care, utilities and miscellaneous goods.
C2ER's index is used by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A new index, published last week, reveals that Portland has the 17th-highest cost of living overall. Of the U.S. cities surveyed, it's also the most expensive place to buy a can of tuna—at $1.59.
State economist Josh Lehner wasn't surprised.
"These numbers aren't wildly out of line with expectations," Lehner says. "Portland is a very unaffordable metro city; it just happens to be that other West Coast cities are comparatively more expensive."
Lehner adds that Portland's high housing costs will have the biggest long-term economic impact.
"Long-run economic growth is based on the ability to attract smart, young, working-age households where people stay and buy or rent houses," he says. "If housing continues to be a problem, my concern is that it will choke out growth because the only people who will be able to afford to move here will be people of higher income."
Here's where Portland ranked in selected index categories:
• 1st for a princely can of tuna.
• 5th-most expensive for a bottle of wine—at an average of $13.72.
• 14th-highest rent and home fees—with the average annual rent for an apartment being $2,482 and the average home price falling at $507,368.
• 16th-most expensive groceries—a dozen eggs average $1.78, more than in 228 other cities, and ground beef averages $4.34 a pound, more than in 232 other cities.
• 17th-highest cost of living overall. New York and San Francisco ranked 1 and 2, respectively. Seattle was No. 8, and McAllen, Texas, was last.
• 31st-most expensive beer— at an average of $9.82 a six-pack.
• 55th-most expensive for veterinary services, at an average of $57.17 an exam.
• 55th-most expensive for health care services. A trip to a doctor in Portland costs an average of $107.61 per visit.
• 62nd-highest transportation costs.
• 259th-most expensive utilities fees, with average monthly energy costs of $145.24 and average monthly phone bills of $19.33.