Building Materials Prices Move Higher in May


Prices paid for goods used in residential construction increased 0.6% in May (not seasonally adjusted) according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. May marks only the fourth monthly increase in the past 12 months in the price index for residential construction inputs.

The index has declined 4.8% year-to-date (YTD), nearly four times the magnitude of the prior record for a May YTD decrease (-1.3% in 2009).  Prices paid for goods used in residential construction have fallen between January and May just three times since 2000.

Prices paid for gypsum products climbed 1.5% in May after decreasing 1.3% in April (seasonally adjusted). The price index for gypsum products has declined 0.5% over the past 12 months and is 8.3% lower than its most recent peak reached in March 2018.

Even after the monthly increase, gypsum product prices have declined 3.0% YTD.  Prices fell slightly more—3.2%–over the same period in 2019.

The 3.1% increase in softwood lumber prices is in stark contrast to the 10.8% decline in April and is the third monthly increase over the past four months.  Prices paid for softwood lumber are 2.7% below January 2020 levels but are 3.2% higher than they were in May 2019.

Nationally, prices paid for ready-mix concrete (RMC) were unchanged in May (seasonally adjusted) after decreasing 0.4% in April.

Prices in the Northeast advanced 0.3% in May, were unchanged in the South, and fell 0.5% and 1.5% in the Midwest and West regions, respectively (not seasonally adjusted).

Other changes in indexes relevant to home building and infrastructure are shown below.

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