Utah Prices Rise for Second Consecutive Month as Transportation Costs Increase
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; April 15, 2011 — In March 2011, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 1.1 percent compared to the national CPI, which increased 1.0 percent, as reflected in the Zions Bank and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Indices reported today. The Wasatch Front CPI increased by 2.5 percent over the last 12 months, below the national CPI’s rate of 2.7 percent over the same period.
A significant portion of Utah price gains is tied to increases in the price of crude oil, which has risen to $108 per barrel. Consequently, Utah businesses are feeling the weight. “Over the past month, we have seen a large increase in our shipping costs for specialty items, such as out of state foods and beverages items.” said Kelly Sabey, a member of the food and hospitality industry in Utah.
Prices along the Wasatch Front generally lag behind those of the U.S. March’s increase brings Utah more in line with national prices. Transportation costs in Utah rose 4.6 percent in the month of March, pushing the average price of regular gasoline in the state to $3.64, a 6.4 percent increase from the month of February. Despite the increase, Utah has the sixth cheapest gas in the nation, according to AAA’s daily fuel gauge survey — 52 cents less than the price of regular gasoline in California.
Gasoline prices are also having an impact on Utah food prices. Costs for food at home rose 0.4 percent in March, an increase attributable primarily to a rise in the price of meat and dairy. Food away increased by 0.2 percent, due to a rise in the cost of alcoholic beverages.
The cost of utilities jumped 0.4 percent last month due to increases in the price of public utilities, including water, electricity, and propane. The utility increase is primarily attributable to a seasonal adjustment in prices that occurs every spring. Medical care rose 0.2 percent in response to an increase in the cost of medical care services. Recreational costs in Utah decreased 0.4 percent as a result of lower costs in cable and satellite television.
In March 2011, 755 single family homes were sold in Salt Lake County compared to 776 in March 2010. For March 2011, the median single family home sales price in Salt Lake County was $217,000, down 5 percent from the median price of $229,300 for the same period in 2010.
“The Zions Bank Wasatch Front CPI had its second largest consecutive gain in the past eight months,” said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. “Higher gasoline prices are a real problem in Utah, where small businesses and individuals have to drive farther to make deliveries or go to work. If prices for gasoline move significantly higher, we will likely see the Utah recovery slow down.”
Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the next Utah Consumer Attitude Index to be released April 26 are provided by the Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City.
Zions Bank is Utah’s oldest financial institution and is the only local bank with a statewide distribution of financial centers, Zions Bank operates locations in communities throughout Utah and Idaho. In addition to offering a wide range of traditional banking services, Zions Bank is also a leader in small business lending and has ranked as the No. 1 lender of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in Utah for the past 17 consecutive years. Founded in 1873, Zions Bank has been serving the communities of Utah for more than 135 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.