Inflation and Utilities

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On Oct. 13, the government reported on September’s Consumer Price Index. Overall inflation was 5.4 percent during the twelve months ending September. And the electricity component of the CPI, that is, residential electric rates, rose 5.2 percent.

Rising natural gas prices are hardly helping. Just look at what’s happening to residential customers of gas utilities. Their gas rates rose 20.6 percent.

CPI numbers are averages of course. Different parts of the country see a range of price trends. The Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, Texas metro area clearly shows this. Overall inflation there was 5.9 percent. Residential electric rates, however, rose 15.0 percent in the metro area. That’s nearly triple the national rise.

Too much inflation isn’t great even if wages are rising. Average weekly earnings nationwide rose 4.6 percent over the last twelve months. Though that rate is not as fast as the 5.4 percent CPI increase.