Blog Post

Insight: Are Wages in Utah Keeping Up with Inflation?

By: James Wood

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

Yes, surprisingly wages for most Utah workers have kept up with inflation. The average wage rate in Utah increased by 2.4% or $1,446 from the third quarter of 2021 through the third quarter of 2022 (Table 1). This increase adjusts for inflation using the Personal Consumer Expenditure (PCE) Price Index. When adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI, the more commonly used measure), the average real wage increased at a slower rate of one-half of one percent, or $289 (Table 2). By either measure, however, the average wage for Utah’s nonagricultural workers kept pace with inflation over the 12-month period.[i]

For some workers, inflation has led to lower wages. The average wage in three sectors declined when adjusting wages by the PCE: (1) financial activities, (2) retail trade, and (3) information. The total employment in these three sectors was 325,094 jobs or 19% of nonagricultural employment. The largest decline was in the information sector, where the average wage fell by $9,403, from $111,651 to $102,249. In the retail sector, the state’s third largest employment sector, the average wage fell by $876 (a 2% decline). When adjusting by the CPI, the average wage declined in five sectors. These five sectors accounted for 672,406 jobs, or 40% of nonagricultural employment.

It is helpful to understand the differences between the Personal Consumer Expenditure Price Index and the Consumer Price Index. The PCE and the CPI are the two main measures of inflation.[ii] The Federal Reserve prefers the PCE, while the business community generally prefers the CPI. A short discussion of the differences between the two indices is outlined in the