SALT LAKE CITY, Utah; August 15, 2012 — The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.3 percent from June to July, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Over the same period the U.S. CPI, which is a collection of all prices throughout the nation, decreased 0.2 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. While falling transportation costs in Utah pulled down aggregate prices in July, year-over-year prices across the Wasatch Front are up 3.2 percent, compared to 1.4 percent nationally.
National transportation prices, driven mostly by gasoline, fell for the third consecutive month, while Utah gasoline prices, which had increased considerably in February, March, and April, remained relatively high until dropping considerably in July.
From June to July, gasoline prices in Utah fell from an average of $3.70 a gallon to an average $3.52 a gallon. Consequently, transportation costs fell 2.7 percent across the Wasatch Front. The 5 percent decrease in gas rates represents the largest percentage decrease this year. Airfare also fell considerably, with the average price of a flight out of the Salt Lake International Airport decreasing by over 10 percent month-over-month. Transportation costs represent the second largest expense for the average Utahn, so a decrease of this magnitude represents a significant relief for consumers.
“It appears that gasoline prices have subsided in Utah, which is a welcome change for a state that is used to relatively low fuel costs,” said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson.
Anderson explained that, “Consumers have been dedicating a substantial amount of their paycheck to filling-up their gas tank, which has depressed demand for more productive consumption, like clothing, appliances and home furnishings. Hopefully, a respite from high gasoline prices encourages consumers to spend their money on products and services that create jobs for Utahns.”
Clothing and apparel, food at home, and recreation also decreased notably last month —falling 0.5 percent, 0.4 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Inflation would have declined even further if housing prices had not continued to climb for the seventh straight month. The housing sector has been recovering throughout the United States since the beginning of 2012, and July prices reflect relative strength in a sector that has been weak for nearly four years.
Housing prices increased 0.5 percent from June to July across the Wasatch Front, compared to a 0.1 percent increase nationally. Since July of 2011, local housing prices are up 3.7 percent, while new housing starts continue to rise and inventories continue to fall. The housing sector has buoyed growth in the economy throughout the summer and looks to be maintaining its momentum with autumn approaching.
Wasatch Front utility prices experienced significant inflation last month, increasing 2.3 percent. Some utilities, such as water and electricity, experienced seasonal price increases. While other utilities, like propane, rebounded from several months of price decreases. Propane prices have been inconstant since August of last year, swinging in excess of 10 percent from month-to-month.
Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index are provided by the Cicero Group. The Cicero Group is a premier market research firm based in Salt Lake City. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index will be released August 28.
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.