Cost of Construction Materials Rise in May

For the seventh consecutive month, the price of construction materials and supplies increased in May, rising 0.7 percent, according to the producer price index report by the U.S. Labor Department.

Prices are currently 5.9 percent higher than May 2009. Leading the commodities, the prices of prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding saw the greatest monthly percentage change — up 4.6 percent.

Softwood lumber prices are up 3.9 percent from April to May, and 1.4 percent higher on a year-over-year basis. Steel mill product prices are up 3.5 percent compared to April and up 32.4 percent compared to price levels a year ago.

Iron and steel prices both rose 0.9 percent in May compared to April and 38.6 percent compared to May 2009. Concrete product prices are up 0.5 percent, but are 17 percent lower from May 2009.

Overall, the nation’s wholesale prices fell 0.3 percent in May. The primary source of the monthly decline was a 1.5 percent fall in energy prices, the largest drop since February, and a 0.6 percent decline in the price of food, according to the report. 

“The very basic principles of economics would dictate that construction materials prices should not be rising,” says Anirban Basu, chief economist with Associated Builders and Contractors. “After all, the U.S. and much of the balance of the developed world, including Europe, remain mired in modest recoveries that may ultimately falter.” 

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