San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Cost of Living Continues Upward Pace

The consumer price index is up for the first quarter of the year by 2.25%, according to the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC).

Food prices continued to soar. In March, the canasta básica, an index compiled from the average prices of 10 staple foods that are part of the consumer price index, rose 23.9% over March 2007.

The canasta básica per person per month last month was 26,974 colones (about $55). This continues the trend that the country has been seeing since at least 2004, when INEC began tracking the index (TT, Dec. 21).

The Spanish-language daily Al Día recently published a survey analyzing the average income needed by a family of four to meet basic living expenses. The newspaper calculated that to cover utilities, transport, food and mortgage payments, a family would need to bring in a minimum income of 447,788 colones (about $911).

But the average Costa Rican income is 259,722 colones ($529).

International price increases in commodities such as wheat, soy and rice, coupled with the surging price of oil, are factors that will continue to squeeze those struggling to live on average wages.


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