By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Led by a 22% increase in the cost of transportation, Wyoming’s cost of living in the fourth quarter of 2021 grew at the fastest annual rate seen in 40 years.
The state’s semi-annual cost of living report produced by its Economic Analysis Division showed the state’s annual rate of inflation in the last quarter of 2021 was 9.3%, the highest level seen since the third quarter of 1981, when inflation was 11.8%.
Not only was the inflation rate the highest seen since 1981, it was also higher than the national average of 7%, the report said.
The report is prepared by comparing the price for a standard “basket of goods” from year to year. The “basket” includes food, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation and personal care.
In the last quarter of 2021, which runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, transportation costs increased by 22.1% over the previous year, more than double the inflation rate for any other category.
Food costs followed in second place with an 8.3% increase and housing costs grew by 7.4%.
The highest rate of inflation was found in northeast Wyoming, which includes Sheridan, Johnson, Campbell, Crook and Weston counties, at 10.4%. The rate in southeast Wyoming — Laramie, Albany, Carbon, Platte, Goshen and Niobrara counties — was 10.2%.
Central Wyoming, made up of Converse, Natrona and Fremont counties, saw the lowest rate of inflation at 7.4%, still ahead of the national average of 7%.
Teton County had the highest cost of living in the state in the last quarter of 2021, with the costs for all of the items in its “basket of goods” running 68% ahead of the state average.
Northern Lincoln County followed in second place with an average cost of living 8% higher than the state average.
Goshen County, with costs 85% of the state average, had the lowest cost of living in the state in the last quarter of the year.