With housing costs 12 percent below average and transportation costs almost eight percent above average, Harrison Countys cost of living was low for the first quarter of 2009, according to a new study issued in the Harrison County Economic Monitor, a publication of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. This publication is sponsored by the Harrison County Economic Alliance Corporation.

Harrison Countys total index was 6.7 percent below the national average ranking the area 124th lowest of the 309 participating urban areas in the United States,said Amy Higginbotham , economist at the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and manager of the Harrison County ACCRA survey.While total cost of living was below average for the county, transportation costs, which include gasoline and automobile maintenance, were the highest in the areas participating in the study and housing costs were 168th lowest in the nation.

Harrison Countys employment growth stalled in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.However, that was much better than the large employment losses posted by both the state and the nation,said George W. Hammond , associate director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Also in the first quarter of 2009, Harrison Countys unemployment rate surged to 5.9 percent, compared to 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2008. But even at 5.9 percent, the countys unemployment rate was well below the state (6.8 percent) and national (8.8 percent) rates.

Overall, Harrison County is being buffeted by the national recession, but so far it is weathering the storm better than the state,Hammond concluded.

The Harrison County Economic Monitor is part of an on-going effort by the Harrison County Development Authority to expand the economic information and analysis available for the county,said David Cutlip, president of the board of directors of the Harrison County Development Authority. Further details regarding the survey results can be found in the May 2009 issue of the Harrison County Economic Monitor, which also includes data and analysis of recent employment and construction trends in the county.

Harrison Countys cost of living was estimated on a quarterly basis by BBER research personnel using a national methodology development by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). Along with 309 other cities, BBER canvassed Harrison County businesses to collect prices on approximately 60 goods and services and submitted these to C2ER for tabulation. The goods and services priced were typical of those purchased by professional and executive households in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

The Harrison County Economic Monitor is published three times a year. Copies of the publication can be found at www.bber.wvu.edu and on the Harrison County Development Authority web site at www.hcdawv.com . Information about the ACCRA cost of living survey can be found at www.coli.org .