Consumer prices along the Wasatch Front have taken their biggest jump in a year. The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped nearly a full point in March and is now up 4.1 percent since this time last year. March’s 0.9 percent month-to-month jump represents the largest increase since April 2016.
Transportation prices increased the most. The 3.1 percent hike was driven by vehicle and gasoline prices. Building on March’s trend as seen in the CPI, April to-date has seen the highest national gasoline prices this year at $2.41, which is just higher than Utah’s average gasoline price of $2.39.
The national Consumer Price Index rose 0.1 percent from February to March.
Medical care prices and food-at-home prices also contributed to the increase in the Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index in March. Medical care price increases were tied to higher prices for nonprescription drugs and medical care services. Food-at-home prices are one of the most volatile categories in the CPI and despite a 1.2 percent increase from February to March, prices have decreased 1.7 percent since this time last year. March’s price increases are the result of higher prices for meat, poultry and beef, as well as produce items like tomatoes, bell peppers and pears.
“Utah’s economy continues to demonstrate strength,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO. “As prices continue to rise at a steady, comfortable pace, local entrepreneurs will be able to grow their businesses and Utah’s economy will continue to set the pace for the rest of the country.”
The rise in Utah’s overall CPI was also driven by higher prices in the following categories:
• Housing prices increased 0.4 percent as apartment rates and furniture prices rose.
• Utilities prices rose 1.0 percent as propane and garbage rates ticked upward.
Utah’s price increases were slightly offset by lower prices in the following sectors.
• Food-away-from-home prices dropped 0.5 percent as prices for full-service meals fell.
• Clothing prices ticked downward as women’s apparel and jewelry prices dropped slightly.
“We’ve seen steady economic growth and price increases for several consecutive months, both on a state and a national level,” said Randy Shumway, chairman and partner at Cicero Group, a Salt Lake City market research company that does the data collection and analysis for the CPI.