The chart below, inspired by the American Enterprise Institute’s “Chart of the Century”, displays 16 years of changes in wages, inflation and the prices of consumer goods and services in Colorado since the beginning of the 21st century.

As real wages have risen locally, most durable and nondurable goods have become more affordable; conversely, the rising costs of housing, health care, and higher education, have increasingly crowded out more and more of every dollar of spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces a historical price index for select metropolitan statistical areas (MSA’s). They currently do not produce a statewide price index. Therefore, this chart includes three items that are representative of a statewide average and not just the MSA. Similarly, the price changes reported at the Denver MSA level, may not be fully representative of actual price changes in regions across Colorado that are outside of the MSA.

While this chart offers no description for the reasons behind the variation in price growth across items, we hope it serves as a common starting point and inspires discussion and more informed questions.