(Bloomberg)—Areas of the U.S. Sun Belt are approaching double-digit inflation rates, as transportation and other costs combine to pinch Southern consumers.

Prices in the Atlanta area rose 9.8% in December compared with a year ago, while Phoenix climbed 9.7% — the two highest inflation rates in a survey of 14 metropolitan areas by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Wednesday.

In Atlanta, which has been at or near the top of the monthly Consumer Price Index in recent months, transportation costs rose 29.3% and apparel costs climbed 14.2%, both significantly higher than the average for U.S. cities, up 21.1% and 5.8% respectively.

Sun Belt’s Scorching Prices

Major markets on the coasts had relatively tamer price increases, possibly reflecting their higher starting points and housing markets that haven’t rebounded as quickly as some Sun Belt areas during the pandemic. The New York area saw 4.4% inflation in December, while San Francisco saw prices climb 4.2%. The nation overall saw a 7% consumer-price inflation rate, the BLS said.

The surge in prices for new and used vehicles contributed heavily to the high reading nationwide, with new vehicle prices climbing 11.8% over the year and used prices climbing 37.3%.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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