WARREN - The Youngstown-Warren metro area remains among the top 10 most affordable urban areas in the United States, according to the 2013 Cost of Living Index.
The metro area, which includes Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Mercer County in Pennsylvania, ranked ninth lowest among 308 urban areas with a Cost of Living Index of 86.5. The national average is 100.
The 2013 study conducted by the Council for Community and Economic Research in Arlington, Va., and released Monday by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. The list ranked Harlingen, Texas, as the least expensive area with a cost of living index of 81.6. New York-Manhattan topped the most expensive list in the United States with a cost of living index of 220.4.
"These types of results are supportive to our economic development efforts in attracting new investment to our community. The Mahoning Valley is an affordable place to do business and live," said Sarah Boyarko, the Regional Chamber's vice president for Economic Development, North America.
James Pirko, president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors, echoed that sentiment.
"It's a great thing for attracting businesses and entrepreneurs into the area," Pirko said. "This creates a bargain for anybody who is looking for a place where they can relocate and start up their business and hold their overhead costs down. That applies to industry, distribution centers, as well as entrepreneurs."
Pirko pointed out that people from other parts of the country typically are shocked at local prices.
"They can buy a better house, more house and better amenities, for a fraction of what they would spend in New England, east coast or west coast.
"Now, if you are looking to sell, you are not going to get a Massachusetts price for your property or a Baltimore price, but you probably didn't pay a Massachusetts or Baltimore price for your property," Pirko said.
The Cost of Living 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. It is based on more than 50,000 prices covering almost 60 different items.
Prices are collected three times a year by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or university applied economic centers. The Regional Chamber obtained the price data for the Youngstown-Warren-Mercer area.
The composite index is based on six components - housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.
Youngstown-Warren ranked below the national average in all six components. In addition, Youngstown-Warren was the least expensive urban area in Ohio among the 10 areas surveyed. Cleveland-Elyria was the most expensive.
This was the first year in the recent past in which the Youngstown-Warren metro area was listed among the top 10 based on all six areas surveyed.
Anthony Paglia, Chamber vice president of government & media affairs, said the 2013 survey also marked the first time the area has ranked below the national average in all six areas, noting that often it is the average utility costs that have ranked above the national average, a point that he says often comes into play when companies are scouting for new venues to locate facilities.
Among the six components, Youngstown-Warren was the most affordable in Ohio in grocery items, transportation and health care, was ranked the second least expensive in miscellaneous goods and services and was fourth lowest in utilities.