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SALT LAKE CITY – Inflation is costing Utah households and those in other Mountain West states an extra $511 every month, markedly higher than the national average increase of $385 per month, according to a new Congressional report.
The report was released by Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee where Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is the ranking member.
"The Mountain West is experiencing the highest inflation with an annual rate of 9 percent, largely driven by rising home and rent prices; shelter costs in the mountain region are rising nearly twice as fast as the national average," the report said.
Nationally, the inflation rate reached 7.5% in January, the fastest increase since the beginning of 1982.
"Americans in the Mountain region—Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming—are experiencing the highest inflation rates with over $500 in added household costs in January," the report went on to say.
The report emphasizes that Americans' experiences with inflation can vary depending on where they live. For example, those in the East South Region are seeing the lowest monthly inflation costs of an added $331 per month.
Sen. Lee said the government's response to the pandemic, with stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment, fueled inflation.
"To flood the entire economy with that much money results in what people describe as too many dollars chasing too few goods—that's the very definition of inflation," Lee said in an interview with KSL-TV. "But Americans know that better as just a circumstance in which everything costs more."
Lee blamed the inflation on the Biden administration's "failed economic policies."
"There is nothing that I'm more concerned about than this from one day to the next in the United States Senate," Lee said. "This is something I'm focusing on aggressively in large measure because I know that so much of this has been created by government."
During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden addressed inflation and outlined a plan to fight rising prices by focusing on manufacturing, supply chain issues and the cost of child care.
"Too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills," Biden said. "Inflation is robbing them of the gains they might otherwise feel. I get it. That's why my top priority is getting prices under control."
The report from Lee and his Republican colleagues predicted that Americans are unlikely to get relief from high inflation in the near term.
"As inflation increases, so does the monthly cost to American families—added costs that Americans will continue to face moving forward, regardless of whether inflation reverts back to normal levels, now that price levels have permanently shifted upward," the report said.
Contributing: The Associated Press