The cost of construction materials and supplies edged up by 0.1 percent in February, according to a March 17 producer price index (PPI) report by U.S. Department of Labor. On a year-over-year basis, prices of construction materials are up 2.8 percent.
Materials leading the increase include softwood lumber, up 7.5 percent from January and 17.7 percent higher than one year ago. Iron and steel prices continue to rise as it has been observed during the past few months. They are up 3.6 percent since this past January and are up 13.5 percent since February 2009. Fabricated structural metal products prices had a slight increase of 0.9 percent from January to February of this year, but are down 4.8 percent compared with a year ago.
In contrast, prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding prices continued to decline after a 5.2 percent increase in December. They went down 0.5 percent in February, but are up 3.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings had a slight decrease of 0.6 percent and are up 1.4 percent since February 2009. Concrete prices decreased by 2.7 percent but were up by 0.4 percent compared with a year ago. Among the significant construction materials, the largest percentage monthly decline was observed for the prices of nonferrous wire and cable, which went down by 3.1 percent from January to February. However, prices are 22.2 percent higher than February 2009.
Overall, the nation’s wholesale prices fell 0.6 percent – the largest drop in seven months. However, prices are 4.4 percent higher compared to February 2009. The Labor Department attributed the decrease to a 2.9 percent drop in energy costs.