SALT LAKE CITY — A new congressional study report released this week found that Utah and the Mountain West are hardest hit by recent inflation.
Inflation rates jumped 7% in the past year, the biggest increase since 1982.
The Congressional Joint Economic Committee study shows that, on average, Utah families are spending $511 more per month than they did compared to the same time last year.
“That’s one of the difficult and frustrating things about inflation is that it tends to hit those who have the least the hardest,” said Phil Dean, senior public finance researcher at Kem C Gardner Policy Institute.
The study found that Mountain West is experiencing the highest inflation in the nation with an annual rate of 9.0%, mainly due to rising house prices and rents.
Dean says the inflation here in Utah can really be seen in the housing market.
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He says house prices are up 30%, while rents are around 10-15% higher year over year.
“We have a supply-demand mismatch, we haven’t built enough homes for the number of families we have,” Dean said.
Dean points to other areas, such as the price of meat, which he says has gone up 20%.
He says that right now people will need to be aware of what they are spending their money on.
“Sometimes they’re going to have, you know, maybe get something they don’t like as much, but it costs less,” Dean said.
Salt Lake City resident Jordan Crawforth has noticed a price hike for what she pays for in food for her dog, Rufio.
“I just ordered a new bag for him last night and I feel like the price of the food he’s eating has probably gone up $15 since the last time I bought it,” Crawforth said.
Crawforth says this extends to the rest of his family. She says she has seen the cost of her normal trip to the grocery store go up.
“So expensive, just the cost of anything, I feel like we’re trying to eat most of our budget is already allocated to our food and that’s just, I feel like it’s is almost triple that,” Crawforth said.
In comparison, people living in the southeastern region of the United States experience the slowest inflation. With an additional $331 spent on average per month.
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Crawforth says she is irritated as a consumer to have to worry about the impact of inflation.
“Ideally prices should go down, but it seems like everyone is pricing everything up to try and keep up,” Crawforth said.
Dean explained that prices tend not to go down once they go up. He expects to see a moderation in the rate of price increases, rather than the spike we’ve seen recently in some regions.
During his State of the Union address this week, President Joe Biden pledged to tackle inflation and rising costs by taking more action to address supply chain issues.
Earlier this month, Utah Senator Mike Lee blamed inflation on government spending, but also agreed that supply chain issues had had a big impact on rising costs.
“Here’s the tricky thing about inflation,” Lee said. “Not always, but generally speaking when prices go up, they tend not to come down right away.”