Wood battles inflation
Average construction material and supply prices rose a deceptively sharp 0.7 percent between February and March. But the increase was narrowly focused, and largely attributable to higher prices being charged for lumber and other wood products.
Following inflation of a low 0.9 percent throughout 2000, preliminary numbers for 2001 show average construction materials prices last year falling by the same 0.9 percent. No high-volume product category recorded inflation of even 2.5 percent during last year.
After six consecutive months of decline during the second half of last year, overall lumber prices moved higher during the first quarter of this year. The price index covering all softwood and hardwood lumber was 6.9 percent higher this March than it had been during the final month of 2001. Average lumber prices for March were 3 percent higher than during March of last year.
Construction material price trends
Percent change in producer price index, March 2001-March 2002
|Source: U.S. Department of Labor
|Unitary air conditioners||1.2|
|Asphalt/Tar strip shingles||1.1|
|Structural metal products||-2.1|
|Ceramic floor and wall tile||-18.3|