Housing and Transportation Prices Propel Consumer Price Index Upward in September

Salt Lake City—The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.2 percent from August to September on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. The index has grown 3.5 percent since September of last year. The majority of this growth has been caused by increases in apartment rental rates within the housing sector, as well as price increases within the transportation sector caused by recent natural disasters in the southern United States. The national Consumer Price Index increased 0.5 percent from August to September and has increased 2.2 percent from this time last year.

Year-over-year growth in the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index is largely attributable to statewide housing price increases. Roughly half of the cost-of-living increase during this period has been caused by apartment rental rate increases alone. Typical Utahn expenditures on apartments are up 6.1 percent since September of last year.

About one-fourth of the year-over-year Consumer Price Index increase can also be explained by rising prices within the transportation sector. Gas prices, vehicle prices and car insurance rates have all contributed to cost-of-living increases within the state. Gas prices, which account for 15 percent of the year-over-year CPI increase, remain elevated since last month. National gasoline prices are up to $2.49 from $2.26 a year ago, and state gasoline prices have increased to $2.59 from $2.26 in the same time period.

“We’ve witnessed elevated gas prices statewide for the past two months, which have slightly cut the amount of discretionary spending that consumers are able to afford within the economy,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “As Utahns spend more at the pump, I expect other areas of the economy, namely spending on recreational goods and fast food purchases, to decrease slightly as these are areas that are most affected by discretionary income.”

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 and fast food have steadily increased in the past year. Slight increases in education and telecommunication prices account for 6 percent of the CPI increase, as prices for internet providers and private education costs have risen substantially in the past year.

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

Utilities prices, accounting for 4.4 percent of a typical Utahn’s overall expenditures, have fallen 3 percent since this time last year, as electricity rates and propane costs have slightly decreased since last September. Prices for recreational goods, which account for 5.5 percent of a typical Utahn’s overall expenditures, have decreased 0.9 percent overall since last September, as prices for pet food and pet care products have decreased this past year.

“Utah’s robust demand within the housing sector continues to anchor the statewide economy,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “This demand has not only increased home equity and value for thousands of Utahns, but has also created strong job growth as thousands of jobs within the construction and real estate sectors have been created in order to satisfy the demand for housing statewide.”

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.

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