TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the national inflation rate had reached an overall 8.2%. In Tampa, the measure was higher, hitting 10.5% compared to last October, 2.3% higher than the rest of the country. One of the big drivers was housing costs.
The previous measure of the Tampa Consumer Price Index from August was 11.2%, meaning that while higher than the nation, some price decreases have come to the area.
According to reports by the Associated Press, the fact that inflation had risen, even ignoring food and energy cost increases, meant that the current strategy of raising interest rates by the Federal Reserve had not impacted the pressures heating the market.
For the Tampa area, which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater in the BLS statistics, the big price drivers were shelter and gas utility costs, aside from the changes to prices of food. According to BLS, the bi-monthly CPI measure was up 0.3% from July to September, mainly “offset by a 11.3 percent decline in the energy index.”
By offset, BLS meant increases overall were somewhat reduced by drops in energy costs. Still, “the food index continued to rise,” going up 1.9% from July to September.
Additionally, BLS reported Tampa’s food index and energy index increased 11.1% and 13%, respectively, compared to the previous year.
“The food at home index rose 13.3% over the past year as all six major grocery store food group indexes increased,” BLS reported. “The food away from home index also increased over the past year, up 8.3%.”
With housing price increases, Tampa isn’t alone. The BLS reported that for the whole of the United States, “The owners’ equivalent rent index also increased 0.8% over the month, the largest monthly increase in that index since June 1990. The index for lodging away from home fell 1.0% over the month.”
Rent itself also rose 0.8%, equal to the owners’ equivalent rent, or mortgages.
In terms of energy prices, which have been higher than years past, electricity and gas were on a decline, though recent events show gas prices rising again.
For Tampa, BLS said “the energy index fell 11.3 percent from July to September, primarily due to a 19.2-percent decrease in the gasoline index. The electricity index edged down 0.2 percent over the bi-monthly period, while the index for natural gas rose 5.8 percent.”
While the Federal Reserve continues its efforts to cool down the inflation that’s affected U.S. consumers for months, the hard part is handling service prices rather than costs of items.
“Services price increases tend to be more persistent than increases in the prices of goods,” Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said during some Oct. 5 remarks. He also said that the increases in the prices of goods were continuing, slowly, but services prices were increasing “swiftly.”
Breaking it down, Bostic said that “importantly, services prices may continue to rise at a fast clip…Prices for housing services like rent are still climbing. On this last point, you’ve very likely heard that home price increases have moderated recently. Despite this, they are still climbing in most markets at relatively high rates.”
He said housing costs play out differently between residents of homes they own compared to those who rent.
“Renters are inherently more vulnerable to rising costs, as homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages generally do not face increases in their monthly payments even in severe inflationary episodes,” Bostic said. “Renters, on the other hand, typically face higher monthly payments at least annually.”
The costs of rent in the Tampa Bay area have been high for a while, and have not shown many signs of decreasing. A recent rent price report from ApartmentList showed that while Tampa rents have declined in the past month, costs were still much higher than the year before.
From September 2021 to September 2022, rent price increases reached 6.3%. However, the same report showed that the prices themselves had only recently started to go down, beginning in August. Tampa is still seeing higher rent increases than the rest of the country.
“Currently, median rents in Tampa stand at $1,464 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,806 for a two-bedroom,” ApartmentList reported. “Tampa’s year-over-year rent growth lags the state average of 8.7%, as well as the national average of 7.5%.”
Those changes are not restricted to Tampa alone. ApartmentList said “rent increases have been occurring not just in the city of Tampa, but across the entire state” over the past year.