SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; September 15, 2011 — In August 2011, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained unchanged, after having decreased 0.2 percent in July. The national consumer price index, which is a culmination of all prices throughout the U.S., increased 0.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in the month of August.
Over the past several months, consumer anxiety has escalated due to concerns about a U.S. economic slowdown. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently stated that the Federal Reserve was ready to take necessary measures to help the economy. It is unclear whether a third round of quantitative easing will occur, but stagnant unemployment rates and poor economic data has not taken the option off the table.
The Utah economy has remained a mixed bag of positives and negatives this year as it continues to follow national trends. The current rough patch has caused many businesses, both local and national, to proceed with caution until further optimism is warranted.
Inflation along the Wasatch Front remains at 2.7 percent year-to-date as transportation prices, which were significantly induced by rising gasoline costs earlier this year, have not yet corrected. The average price of regular gasoline in the state, as reported by AAA Daily Fuel Gauge, is $3.59 – roughly $0.78 higher than January’s prices. In August, transportation costs rose 0.1 percent. The slight increase is attributed to higher gasoline and commercial airfare prices.
Food at home prices rose 0.1 percent during August. Food items such as wheat, beef, and produce drove the index slightly higher. Local food away prices rose 0.3 percent, the largest increase this year, as full service meals and fast food became more expensive, the largest increase this year.
Housing prices along the Wasatch Front – which consist of renting costs, home maintenance, and hotel rates – decreased 0.2 percent in August. Year-to-date, the housing index has risen 1.6 percent. Utility costs rose 0.4 percent last month as the price of propane increased.
Clothing prices, which accounts for 4.8 percent of a consumer’s income, increased 0.5 percent due to price increases in both men’s and women’s apparel. Since August of last year, clothing costs have risen 3.0 percent. Medical care costs decreased 1.5 percent last month, the largest drop year-to-date. Facilitating the drop was a price decrease in medical care services. Other goods and services items rose 0.7 percent last month as cosmetic prices continued to increase.
Wasatch Front recreational costs rose 0.6 percent in August.& The increase is credited to a rise in the price of installation services and membership fees. The education and communication price index remained unchanged last month. The cost of other goods and services rose 0.7 percent as personal care items and cosmetics increased in price.
In August 2011, 914 single family homes were sold in Salt Lake County compared to 633 in August 2010. For August 2011, the median single-family home sales price in Salt Lake County was $205,000, down 8.3 percent from the median price of $222,000 for the same period in 2010.
Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the next Utah Consumer Attitude Index is to be released September 27 are provided by the Cicero Group/Dan Jones & Associates, a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City.
About Zions Bank
Zions Bank, a division of ZB, N.A., operates 124 full-service financial centers 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 consistently ranked as the No. 1 lender of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in Utah for the past 22 years and Idaho’s Boise District for the past 14 years. Founded in 1873, Zions Bank has been serving the communities of the Intermountain West for more than 140 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.