Economics

Wasatch Front CPI - February 2019

Medical care prices see record rise, transportation and housing prices fall.

Zions Bank Feb 13, 2019

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.2 percent from December to January on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the largest drop since March 2018. Year-over-year, the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index has grown 4.8 percent, while the national Consumer Price Index has increased 1.6 percent since January of last year.

Drops in the cost of housing and transportation were the major contributors to the month-to-month decrease in prices along the Wasatch Front. Housing prices dipped 0.3 percent in January, due largely to changes in apartment rental rates. Transportation prices fell 0.7 percent, mostly due to a drop in gas prices, which are at their lowest point since Feb. 2017.

Housing prices are still, by far, the largest contributors to year-over-year price increases, rising 8.7 percent since January 2018. Transportation prices increased 2.6 percent, their lowest year-over-year growth since July 2017. Conversely, medical care prices grew 12.1 percent since January 2018, their largest year-over-year rise since Zions Bank and Cicero Group began tracking the data in 2010.

“Gas prices have dropped both because of seasonal demand fluctuations and because of global oil production,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group. “Producers of oil, both domestic and abroad, have kept their production high for months. That will likely change in the coming months, so don’t expect prices to stay this low for long.”

Even though healthcare prices have been growing, they are still a relatively small part of Utahns’ overall expenditures.  Medical care makes up about 6.4 percent of Utahns’ expenses, which comes after housing (38.3 percent), transportation (17.1 percent), food (both at home and away from the home, at 7.4 and 7.5, respectively), and education/communication (6.7 percent).

“There are a few major sources that could cause rising healthcare prices and spending,” Shumway said. “Current increases appear to be a result of continued advancements in treatment and care, as well as healthcare providers increasing costs to cover existing services.”

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 February 26, 2019.

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