SHERIDAN — State economists recently completed an annual inflation study and pegged this year’s price increases across the state at an average 2.9 percent. For the purposes of the study, Sheridan belongs in the northeast quadrant survey area, along with Buffalo, Gillette, Sundance and Newcastle, where the rate was actually figured to be 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
State of Wyoming Department of Administration and Information Economic Analysis Division Senior Economist Amy Bittner explained the percentages of inflation were calculated by sending on-the-ground researchers to 28 different towns and cities across the state to check prices on 140 consumer items. Those prices were then compared to those posted last year to determine the annual inflation percentage for five geographical subsections and the state overall.
The itemized prices were also compared to national averages using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index to assign a relative level of importance in the average consumer’s budget. While housing tops that list at 47.4 percent in terms of importance to consumers, it’s trailed by transportation at 16.8 percent and food at 14.3 percent recreation and personal care, medical and apparel all registered in the single-digit percentages.
Within Sheridan County, the prices of apparel, recreation, personal care and food were identified to be above the statewide average in terms of expense, while all other items brought the county-wide numerical value to 99, with 100 representing the statewide average.
Teton county has the highest comparative cost of living, designated to be 133, while Platte and Niobrara Counties tie for the title of least expensive at 88 apiece.
Rental rates for various accommodations was one of the items priced out by researchers. The average apartment in Sheridan County rents for $636, a mobile home lot goes for $354, a house $970 and a mobile home rents out at $495 on average.
These are on the steep side when compared to other areas in the state. Nine of Wyoming’s 23 counties had higher average home rental prices, which means Sheridan County’s rent is more expensive than roughly 60 percent of other locations within the state.
“Housing costs drive the cost of living index because they’re the largest part of the consumer index,” Bittner explained.
Other inflation percentages around the state were as follows: the southeast region, 3.4 percent; northwest, 3 percent; central, 2.9 percent and southwest, 1.9 percent.
The consumer category that experienced the most inflation statewide was medical at 4.9 percent. Housing followed at 3.9 percent, transportation was 3.3 percent, apparel went up 2.9 percent, recreation and personal care, 0.7 percent and food, 0.4 percent.
Wyoming’s statewide inflation rate of 2.9 percent is higher than the national average, 1.5 percent.