Wasatch Front CPI - August 2019

Rising Home Prices Offset Falling Transportation Costs

Zions Bank Aug 13, 2019

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) remained essentially unchanged overall from June to July on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Year over year, the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index has grown 2.6%, while the national Consumer Price Index has increased 1.8% since July of last year.

Falling gasoline prices put the largest downward pressure on overall prices along the Wasatch Front. Gasoline prices dropped about 20 cents per gallon from June to July, yielding a 2.9% dip in transportation prices. That is the largest month-to-month drop in transportation prices in the month of July since 2014. Transportation prices are down 3.6% since July 2018, continuing a downward trend for the third month in a row.

Meanwhile, housing prices continue to put upward pressure on overall prices along the Wasatch Front. Housing prices increased 1% in July on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the largest month-to-month increase since July 2018. Prices for hotels and motels also rose sharply, which is common in July, and apartment rental rates continued to inch up for the fifth consecutive month. Housing prices have risen 5.2% since July 2018.

The 12-month overall price growth of 2.6% is the lowest seen along the Wasatch Front since March 2018, but still slightly above the national target inflation rate of 2%. The relatively modest growth is due largely to the 12-month drop in transportation prices and comparatively mild growth in other sectors.

Looking ahead, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects that gasoline prices will drop about 10 cents to $2.64 in September. 

“The price dip in gasoline is a good sign for Utah consumers, who feel the change in prices at the pump very quickly,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “In addition, declining transportation prices typically help push overall price levels down as the cost of getting goods to market decreases.  This will likely have further positive effects on the economic outlook.”

Analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index are provided by Cicero Group, a premier management consulting firm based in Salt Lake City. The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index will be released August 27.

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