The onset of higher summer rates for watering lawns and increased medical costs helped produce a 0.2 percent rise in consumer prices along the Wasatch Front from June to July, twice the amount of the monthly national increase.
With that bump, Utah’s year-over-year inflation rate is 3.4 percent, said Ryan Taylor of Cicero Group, the Salt Lake City market-research firm that collected and analyzed data for Zions Bank, the survey sponsor. Consumer prices nationally have risen 1.6 percent over the past year.
Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson said the Wasatch Front’s higher rate of inflation could benefit the economy.
“Since the beginning of the year,” he said, “we’ve witnessed steady and sustained price increases statewide. Moderate inflation incentivizes companies to produce more goods, which will likely lead to more jobs and higher rates of employment within the overall economy.”
Prices for prescription drugs and dental care rose 1.6 percent from June to July, coming close to matching utility expenses as the biggest influence on the inflation rate.
Housing prices barely made a ripple on the index, going up just 0.2 percent, while the cost of food eaten away from home went up 0.6 percent. College tuition increases lifted the cost of education and communication by 0.5 percent.
“Gently rising housing prices,” said Cicero Group Chairman Randy Shumway, “encourage consumer spending and economic growth, putting Utah’s economy in a great position heading into the final months of summer.”
Some of the hikes were offset by a 0.5 percent decline in the cost of food eaten at home and a 0.2 percent dip in recreational expenses, due largely to lower costs for pet-care products.
And even though gas prices in Utah in July were 11 cents per gallon more than the national average ($2.36 per gallon for regular gas), pump prices in the Beehive State have fallen three cents since June, leading to a 0.7 percent monthly drop in transportation costs.