Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index remains flat July to August, prices up year over year

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index remained unchanged from July to August on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

The index has grown 3.4 percent since August of last year. The majority of this growth has been caused by increased housing costs, as well as climbing prices within the transportation sector. The national Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent from July to August and has increased 1.9 percent from this time last year.

Year-over-year growth in the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index are largely attributable to statewide housing price increases. According to the Consumer Price Index, 64 percent of overall cost of living increases within the state are attributable to housing costs, including increased apartment rental rates. Twenty-three percent of the year-over-year Consumer Price Index increase can also be explained by rising prices within the transportation sector: namely price increases for gasoline and fuel.

Gas prices have increased in the wake of recent natural disasters along the Texas Gulf Coast and Southern United States: national gasoline prices are up to $2.65 from $2.35 a month ago, and state gasoline prices have increased to $2.66 from $2.54 in the same time period.

“Utah’s economy has grown impressively in the past year, as reflected  in the expansion within Utah County’s Silicon Slopes area and the growing real estate market within the state,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO.  “This economic growth has created jobs and demand, particularly within the housing sector, that are pushing prices upward.”

Year-over-year increases in Utah’s Consumer Price Index are also explained by rising prices in the following sectors:

  • Steady rises in restaurant food prices account for 10 percent of the cost of living increase, as prices for full-service meals have increased substantially in the past year.
  • Slight increases in telecommunication prices account for 5 percent of the year-over-year CPI increase, as telephone and cellular data prices have increased substantially within the last year.

Year-over-year increases in Utah’s CPI have been slightly offset by lower prices within the following sectors:

  • Prices for recreational goods, which account for 5.5 percent of a typical Utahn’s overall expenditures, have decreased 3.9 percent overall since last August, as prices for television providers and media streaming services have decreased significantly.
  • Utilities prices, accounting for 4.4 percent of a typical Utahn’s overall expenditures, have fallen 2.1 percent since this time last year, as electricity rates have slightly decreased since last August.

“Up until Hurricane Harvey’s recent impact in East Texas, Utahns had been enjoying the extra income that comes from lower gas prices at the pump,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “Until oil refineries along the Gulf Coast get back to full capacity, consumers in Utah and nationwide could face slightly elevated gasoline prices.”

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.