Ris­ing fuel and hous­ing prices boost in­fla­tion to high­est level since 2011. »

Ris­ing prices in fuel and hous­ing lift rate in metro Den­ver to high­est level since 2011

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Aldo Svaldi

Higher gaso­line prices in the first half of the year, along with an­other big gain in hous­ing costs, helped push up in­fla­tion in metro Den­ver to its high­est rate since 2011.

The Den­ver-Boul­der-Gree­ley con­sumer price in­dex rose at a 3.1 per­cent an­nual pace in the first six months of 2017, driven higher by a 5.3 per­cent gain in shel­ter costs and a 16 per­cent jump in gaso­line prices, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics.

The last time lo­cal in­fla­tion ran hot­ter than now was in the first half of 2011, when prices rose 3.8 per­cent. Last year, con­sumer prices lo­cally, which are re­ported twice a year, were up 2.8 per­cent.

Rents rose 4.9 per­cent in the first half of the year from the first half of 2016 and an equiv­a­lent mea­sure for the cost of own­ing a home was up 5.7 per­cent.

Util­i­ties also cost more, with elec­tric­ity up 6.6 per­cent and nat­u­ral gas for heat­ing up 9.3 per­cent.

Hous­ing in­fla­tion, how­ever, showed signs of eas­ing. The 5.3 per­cent jump in shel­ter costs in the Den­ver re­gion is ac­tu­ally down from a 7.6 per­cent gain in the first half of 2016. That should have put down­ward pres­sure on the over­all in­fla­tion rate, but gaso­line prices, which had moved lower from 2013 to 2016, surged 16 per­cent in the first half.

A drop in oil prices this year could make that in­crease short­lived. Prices at the pump for gaso­line in metro Den­ver this month are al­ready head­ing back to lev­els seen last sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to GasBuddy. That could neu­tral­ize the im­pact of gaso­line prices on in­fla­tion in the sec­ond half of the year.

Food prices were up 2.1 per­cent, with res­tau­rant costs ris­ing 4.6 per­cent, while the cost of food at home rose at 0.2 per­cent. Colorado vot­ers last fall passed a min­i­mum wage in­crease to $12 an hour by 2020.

Sup­port­ers ar­gued that higher liv­ing costs made the wage in­creases nec­es­sary, but the Colorado Res­tau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion coun­tered the in­creases would push up the cost of eat­ing out.

Ap­parel costs dropped 6.8 per­cent in the first half of the year, their big­gest drop since the sec­ond half of 2007. Med­i­cal care costs were up 1.9 per­cent.

The Den­ver-Boul­der-Gree­ley CPI num­ber is the only in­fla­tion fig­ure re­leased by the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics for Colorado. It is a closely watched mea­sure that plugs into for­mu­las used to de­ter­mine lim­its on gov­ern­ment

spend­ing in Colorado and the pay in­creases that work­ers re­ceive.

The Colorado Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil is pre­dict­ing the lo­cal con­sumer in­fla­tion rate will end 2017 at 2.9 per­cent.

A wage in­crease sur­vey from the Moun­tain States Em­ploy­ers Coun­cil found that Colorado em­ploy­ers were plan­ning av­er­age wage hikes of 3.1 per­cent next year, the big­gest in­crease since 2008.

As­sum­ing last year’s in­fla­tion rate of 2.6 per­cent had held, the in­crease would have given con­sumers one of the best chances to get ahead of in­fla­tion in years, but it ap­pears that won’t be the case.

Con­sumer prices na­tion­ally rose 2.2 per­cent in the first half of the year, with shel­ter costs up 3.4 per­cent na­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics.

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