Rises in housing and transportation prices continue to propel Wasatch Consumer Price Index upward

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.5 percent from January to February on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

Year-over-year, the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index has grown 3.6 percent, while the National Consumer Price index has increased 2.2 percent since February of last year.

Rising prices within the transportation and housing sectors are causing the majority of the increase in overall cost of living statewide. Rises in transportation costs, namely increases in automobile insurance rates as well as rising gas prices have caused nearly 50 percent of the overall year-over-year cost of living increase, while rises in apartment rental rates have caused more than 30 percent of the increase in the same period.

Both grocery and restaurant prices have also seen an uptick, with groceries prices increasing 0.7 percent this past month, while average restaurant prices along the Wasatch Front have increased 4.9 percent over the last twelve-month period.  In total the housing, food, and transportation categories make up nearly 70 percent of the average Utahn’s monthly expenditures. 

Although Utah has seen year-over-year price increases above 3 percent since May of last year, economists across the nation think favorably about the economic future of the Beehive State. According to Forbes’ yearly Best States for Business ranking, Utah’s economy was ranked third nationwide in 2017, trailing only North Carolina and Texas. Utah’s labor supply, business-friendly regulatory environment, overall economic climate and growth prospects all contributed to the economy’s national recognition as one of the country’s top states to do business.

“Utah’s labor force has been nationally recognized as one of the fastest-growing labor pools nationwide” said Scott Andersen, president and CEO of Zions Bank.  “More workers within the economy are a sign of economic growth and represent a benefit to employers, who will have a larger talent pool to draw from.”

Although transportation and housing prices were the main drivers of the rise in cost of living statewide, the following sectors also witnessed price increases in the month of February:

  • Food at home prices grew 0.7 percent in February as prices for meat, poultry, and produce increased significantly
  • Recreation prices increased 0.4 percent in February as prices for veterinary services increased slightly

Price increases were largely offset by price declines in the following sectors:

  • Prices for other goods and services decreased 0.5 percent as cosmetics and personal care product prices decreased slightly
  • Utility prices fell 0.1 percent as propane prices decreased slightly in the month of February

“Utah’s recognition as one of the best states for business in 2017 is a tremendous win for the economy,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “As policy makers within the state continue to ensure that business-friendly policies and regulations are kept in place, I am sure that businesses will continue to flock to the state, further benefitting the economy as a whole.”

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.