Seasonal increases in housing, utility, and transportation costs continue to propel Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index upward

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index increased 1.5 percent from April to May on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

Year-over-year, the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index has grown 5.0 percent, the largest annual increase since Zions Bank began measuring the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index in 2010.  The National Consumer Price index has increased 2.8 percent since May of last year.

Rising prices within the housing and transportation sectors continue to drive the majority of the increase in overall cost of living along the Wasatch Front. Increases to the cost of airfare, vehicle rentals, and gasoline drove increases in the transportation sector, while rising hotel and motel rates, combined with seasonal increases in apartment rates, had the largest impact on housing prices.  Summer utility price increases are also pushing the index upward.

Due to the price increases, Utahns are spending an increasing proportion of their incomes — 55.6 percent — on housing and transportation.  This is the highest proportion spent on these categories since Zions Bank started tracking the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index in 2010.  Medical care price increases also fueled the overall upward movement of the index.  Price increases for prescription drugs largely fueled this increase.

“Summer is a common time for prices to increase,” said Scott Andersen, president and CEO of Zions Bank. “Real estate and apartment owners tend to increase prices around May as they prepare for the increase in moving that comes with summer. And consumers tend to buy more gasoline during the vacation season, with many people traveling by plane and car.”

“Though national and global market supply factors drive increases to gasoline prices, rising housing prices are due more to local economic factors,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “Demand for Utah’s housing is growing because of both population growth and people coming to Utah for work and education. Presently, even though residential construction is quite strong, demand has grown faster than supply.”

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.