Transportation and housing are leading nearly across-the-board price increases facing Wasatch Front consumers.
The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI), announced last week, rose 0.9 percent from February to March on a non-seasonally adjusted basis and is part of a 4.3 percent jump from March 2018. The national CPI rose 0.4 percent from February to March, and the local year-over-year growth is more than double the national figure, which increased 1.9 percent since March of last year.
While utilities prices along the Wasatch Front remained flat from February to March, prices in every other sector were up. Transportation prices shot up 3.2 percent, a sharp contrast to the year-over-year increase of only 0.1 percent because of lower-than-average gasoline prices.
Meanwhile, housing prices rose 0.5 percent from February to March, making it the second-largest contributor in the overall price change. On an annual basis, for the eighth straight month, housing prices were the primary driver of 12-month price growth.
That growth, while still strong, appears to be slowing as the housing sector posted its lowest 12-month price growth since September 2018 — a 7.8 percent year-over-year increase.
“The rapid rise in housing prices across the Wasatch Front has come primarily due to population growth and housing supply constraints,” said Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions Bank. “As the Wasatch Front continues to build out, we are seeing developers provide higher-density approaches to land use as a way to address anticipated future price growth.”
Consumers also can expect gasoline prices to rise across the state in the near term, according to Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group, which provides analysis and data collection for the Zions Bank CPI and the Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index.
“The U.S. average has been inching higher and is currently ahead of Utah’s price per gallon by a little more than 20 cents,” Shumway said. “Utah will continue to close the gap, and it’s likely we’ll soon see more upward pressure on gas prices due to increasing demand as Utahns begin to take more summer road trips.”