Aug 14, 2023 - Business

Inflation pains persist in Denver — with restaurant price inflation the highest in the nation

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

While much of the country sees signs of cooling inflation, price pressures from gas to groceries remain high in Denver.

Driving the news: The year-over-year inflation rate around the metro was 4.7% in July — the second-highest rate in the country, next to Tampa, Florida — albeit a slight drop from 5.1% in May, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

  • Blame higher energy and housing costs.
  • Between May and July, household energy and utility prices jumped by 7.5%, marking the largest two-month increase in over a year, according to a new report from the conservative-leaning Common Sense Institute.

BFD: Colorado currently outranks every other state for restaurant price inflation, a new USA Today analysis of federal data shows.

  • Costs have soared 24% since last November, meaning Coloradans spend an average of $112 every two weeks on eating out.

What they're saying: Restaurants are facing similar struggles, like "increased food pricing, increased labor pricing, fuels going up, packaging," Sonia Riggs, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, told KUNC.

  • "Restaurant operators have no choice but to pass their increased costs onto the customers" through higher menu prices and service fees, Riggs said.

The intrigue: Riggs suspects rising minimum wage and living costs could be driving up Colorado's high restaurant prices.

The big picture: The average Colorado household has spent $19,295 more on living expenses since 2020 due to inflation, CSI estimates.

The bottom line: The broad-based easing of price pressures nationwide offers an optimistic outlook that inflation will cool along with the weather as 2023 proceeds, Axios' Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown write.

  • But further improvement in the inflation picture isn't a certainty.

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