Metro Denver’s inflation rate falls ever so slightly in January

Metro Denver’s consumer inflation rate fell slightly, from a 6.9% annual pace in November to a 6.4% pace in January, as stubbornly persistent increases in food and housing costs keep it from falling more, according to the latest Consumer Price Index for the Denver area from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS measures inflation every two months in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area and prices rose 0.9% between November and January, up from a 0.47% increase between September and November. Metro Denver’s annual inflation rate in January matched that of the U.S., where inflation failed to drop as much as expected.

“Today’s inflation report suggests the Fed will continue hiking interest rates in the near term with expectations of two 25 basis point increases in March and May, while another 25 basis point hike in June looking more likely given today’s hot inflation report and the better-than-expected payroll report for January,” predicted Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, in a research note.

Food and beverage costs overall are up 9.1% over the past year in metro Denver, with the biggest increase coming in nonalcoholic beverages, which are up 16.7% over the past year, while the cost of alcoholic beverages was up 7.5%.

Costs for food eaten at home are up 11.5%, while the cost of dining out was up 6.4%. Cereals and bakery products were up 14%, while meat and other proteins, including eggs, were up 7.7% and dairy was up 8.7%. Fruits and vegetables, which had held the line on increases better than other categories last year, shot up 12.9%.

Housing costs, which carry more than 40% of the weight in the basket of goods used in the CPI, have risen 9.4% over the past year in metro Denver. Rents are up 12.7% while an equivalent for homeowners is up 9.2%. Utilities, both electricity and natural gas, are up 13.4%.

Transportation inflation, however, is easing. Gasoline prices are up 4.7% from a year ago, but they fell nearly 20% between October and December. Closures at the Suncor refinery in Commerce City, an important supplier of gasoline in the region, are pushing up prices at the pump this year. But consumers are getting a break when it comes to used cars and trucks, which were down 10.6% over the past year.

Used vehicles represent the only category tracked where prices are actually falling over the past year. But on a two-month basis, prices were moving lower for furniture, dairy products and for new and used vehicles.

Since 2020, the average Colorado household has spent $12,779 more due to inflation, according to a number provided by the Common Sense Institute.

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