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Construction Materials Prices Increase

Overall construction materials prices increased 0.4 percent in April and are up 1.5 percent year over year, according to the May 14 Producer Price Index released by the U.S. Department of Labor. Nonresidential construction material prices were up 0.5 percent for the month and are 1.4 percent higher than the same time last year.

Concrete products prices, including aggregates, expanded 0.6 percent in April and are up 3.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“Construction materials prices have increased for five consecutive months, the longest streak in more than two years,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “While some may interpret this increase as the onset of a period associated with significantly higher inflation, it seems more likely that the consistent uptick in prices is at least partially attributable to the colder-than-normal winter, which interrupted the usual flow of construction inputs. Nationally, construction spending has not been rising in recent months, which implies recent increases in materials prices are not a purely economic phenomenon.”

Crude energy materials prices fell 3.3 percent in April, but are still 6.6 percent higher than one year ago. Natural gas prices decreased more than 10 percent for the second consecutive month. Overall, the nation’s wholesale goods prices expanded 0.7 percent in April and are up 3.1 percent year over year.

“The nationwide surge in prices is almost entirely attributable to food prices, which increased 2.7 percent in April alone,” said Basu. “Any crops that weren’t damaged by the harsh winter are now struggling to survive through a drought affecting large portions of the western United States.”