Wasatch Front consumer price index trends upward as utility prices jump into summer

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index ticked upward in May, rising 0.5 percent from the previous month.

Utilities and communications prices had the largest impact on this month’s increase, while other sectors experienced either modest increases or slight drops. Nationally, gasoline prices have decreased slightly over the past month, while Utah gasoline prices continue to slowly increase. The national Consumer Price Index increased 0.1 percent from April to May.

Prices for utilities drove the increase in the overall CPI from April to May as utility companies increased electricity and water usage rates to reflect higher summer costs. Phone companies also increased the price of monthly plans. Housing prices continued to increase at a rate of 0.2 percent from April to May due to higher apartment rental rates and hotel rates.

“With food prices maintaining consistency and only minor price changes in areas like recreation, we should see consistent discretionary spending being injected into the economy this summer,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “Consumer spending boosts sales for local and state businesses, and in turn helps Utah’s economy continue to grow.”

The rise in Utah’s overall CPI was also driven by higher prices in the following categories:

•             Transportation rose in price by 0.8 percent as rental car and car insurance rates increased

•             Recreation prices increased by 0.5 percent as pet care prices increased in anticipation for the summer

Utah’s price increases were slightly offset by lower prices in the following sectors:

•             Medical Care prices decreased 0.1 percent as pediatric care and dental care prices decreased

•             Food away prices fell 0.5 percent as fast food restaurants decreased prices for meals

“Our housing market continues its healthy expansion, and our robust economy is becoming more and more attractive to potential new residents,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “Utah is in a good spot heading into the heat of the summer.”

Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index are provided by Cicero Group, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City.