Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prices in U.S. west rise 1.6 percent in March

Prices in the "west" region of the United States, including Colorado and other western states, rose 1.6 percent year-over-year, led by increases in prices in transportation and medical care. According to new Consumer Price Index information for all urban consumers (CPI-U) released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices in transportation and medical care rose year-over-year 12.7 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.

From February to march of this year, prices rose 0.3 percent.

Overall price increases in the region were mitigated by price drops in recreation, apparel and housing. Recreation prices fell 2.2 percent, year over year, while prices in apparel and housing fell 2.1 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Nationally, prices increased 0.1 percent in March. Over the last 12 months, the index increased 2.3 percent before seasonal adjustment. The seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index was mostly due to an increase in the fresh fruits and vegetables index, which rose 4.6 percent in March and accounted for over 60 percent of the all items increase. Other food at home indexes were mixed and the index for food away from home was unchanged.

The index for energy and for all items less food and energy were both unchanged in March. Within energy, an increase in the electricity index was offset by declines in the indexes for gasoline and natural gas. Within all items less food and energy, the indexes for medical care, new vehicles, and used cars and trucks posted increases, while the indexes for shelter, household furnishings and operations, and apparel declined.

Much of the increase in March's CPI is reflected in increases in gasoline prices that are significant in Colorado. According to the American Automobile Association, The highest price ever recorded for regular gas in Denver was $4.00-6/10ths a gallon on July 17, 2008. In April 12, 2009, regular cost $1.97 a gallon.

Gas prices rose throughout March, and on April 12 in Colorado, the average price of regular gas was about $2.73, AAA says, while mid-grade is $2.92, premium $3.05 and diesel $2.94.

Nationally, gasoline prices rose 15.9 percent in the 6-month period ending in March 2010, according to the BLS.