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Slight Bump In Some Construction Material Prices

4/14/2014 | Construction Blog

The recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor on its producer price index showed mixed results for construction materials prices in March. Construction materials prices went up 0.5% from February, but they are up 1.1% from March of 2013. The number correlates closely with increases in non-residential construction materials prices, which were up 0.4%.

Experts seem to believe that the increase does not signal inflation in construction prices despite the fact that inflation seems to be impacting the overall economy. Wholesale goods, for instance, are up 1.7% for the year. This change seems largely driven by the cost of raw materials, most notably in the energy sector. Even after falling over 6% in March, crude materials prices remain up 13% from the same time last year and are up over 34% in 2014.

Digging deeper into the numbers, here are some worth noting:

  • Non-ferrous wire and cable prices were up 0.1% in March, but they are down as compared to a year ago.
  • Concrete prices were up 0.3% in March and are up 3.9% for the year.
  • Asphalt and tar were up 1.1% for March but are generally down over the last year.
  • Iron and steel prices fell 1.7% in March; however, they are up 1.3% over this time last year.

Overall, these price point indicators seem to suggest a construction economy in neutral. The question is whether this is because the car is parked or because it is simply shifting gears from reverse to drive.