SALT LAKE CITY -- In November, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.1 percent compared to the national CPI, which remained unchanged, as reflected in the Zions Bank and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Indices reported today. The Wasatch Front CPI increased by 1.0 percent over the last 12 months, slightly below the national CPI's rate of 1.1 percent over the same period.
While inflation is likely to remain low over the next six months, Americans and economists are split on the longer-term future of inflation. Many Americans are purchasing gold as a safe haven against sharp increases in inflation -- pushing gold to record prices. Others are purchasing U.S. Treasury securities to guard against deflation. While Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a Dec. 4 interview that inflation worries are "overstated," other economist worry the Fed's recent $600 billion monetary injection will cause hyper-inflation. In either case, the CPI indicates that Americans are not paying significantly more for many goods and services today as they were more than two years ago.
Utah prices fell 0.1 percent as a result of decreases in food at home, housing, and transportation while other goods and services and apparel prices increased in the month of November. Food at home costs dropped by 0.3 percent as prices decreased for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Housing costs fell 0.4 percent due to a decrease in hotel prices. Transportation costs were driven lower by a decrease in the price of gasoline. According to AAA, Utah has the third lowest gasoline prices in the country, ranked at No. 48 in the United States, with a gallon of regular gasoline costing $2.81. By contrast, other goods and services were pushed 0.2 percent higher by increases in hygiene products. Apparel costs also jumped 0.7 percent in November, as prices for men's, women's, and children's clothes and accessories all increased. The clothing price jump brings Utah more in line with clothing price increases in the rest of the U.S.
The November U.S. unemployment rate increase to 9.8 percent was disheartening. However, a potential bright spot for coming months is that the private sector job openings rate has increased to its highest level since August 2008. The Utah November unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent. Currently 9.7 percent of Utahns collect food stamps compared to 14 percent nationally.
In November 2010, home sales in Salt Lake County increased to 590 homes sold from the 573 homes sold in October 2010. For the eleven months of 2010 ending November 30, the median single family home sales price in Salt Lake County was $220,000; down 6.5 percent for the same period in 2009. Seventy-five percent of single family home sales were under $300,000.
"The Zions Wasatch Front CPI shows that prices have been relatively stable over 2010, reflecting flat economic growth. There are hopeful signs for growth in 2011. However, times are tough for many Utah families, and we are sensitive to those in need this holiday season," said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson.