Youngstown-Warren Metro: 9th Lowest Cost of Living

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The Mahoning Valley’s ranking among the top 10 least expensive urban areas provides a valuable tool for recruiting new companies to come to the area, an official with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber says.

In the 2013 Cost of Living Index compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research, based in Arlington, Va., the Youngstown-Warren metropolitan area was ranked the ninth lowest of 308 urban areas with an index of 86.5, below the national average of 100. Harlingen, Texas, was ranked the least expensive area with an index of 81.6. New York-Manhattan was the most expensive with an index of 220.4

The index measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile, according to a news release issued by the Regional Chamber. The chamber obtained the price data for the Youngstown-Warren metro, which covers Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Mercer County in Pennsylvania.

The composite survey is based open six components -- housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. It covers more than 50,000 prices covering nearly 60 different items for which prices are collected three times per year by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or university applied economics center in each participating urban area, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

“These types of results are supportive of our economic development efforts in attracting new investment in our community,” remarked Sarah Boyarko, vice president for economic development, North America, for the Regional Chamber.

“One of the things that businesses and companies want to know when they are considering coming to the area is what is the cost of living, the cost of utilities, the cost of land, the cost of equipment and things like that, so we keep those kinds of information updated,” added Tony Paglia, vice president for government and media affairs at the chamber. “It’s an important part of the information that companies need to know before they decide to take a closer look at the Valley.”

Cost-of-living is among the top five factors considered when a company putting together its business plan and making its decision whether to move to the region, Paglila continued. “Certainly the cost of doing business and the cost of living are going to be a factor as well if they’re going to move people here. They’d like to know what the cost of living would be for them as well.” The chamber posts a cost-of-living comparison on its website.

The Youngstown-Warren metro ranked below the national average in all six components, and was the least expensive among the 10 metro areas in Ohio surveyed. Cleveland-Elyria was the most expensive.

Youngstown-Warren has typically had low housing numbers, much of that stemming from the economic downturn, but the latest survey shows the region has become competitive in the other areas as well, Paglia said.

“What struck me was, for instance, we were lower in utilities. We normally aren’t,” Paglia noted. “Northeast Ohio is known for higher utilities in the country so to have our utility costs lower than the national average was interesting. It’s hard to explain it right now. We’re probably going to have to drill down a little bit on that.”

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
CLICK HERE to subscribe to our twice-monthly print edition and to our free daily email.