Softwood Lumber Costs Continue to Decline

Originally published by: NAHBJuly 12, 2019

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Prices paid for goods used in residential construction decreased by 1.1% in June (not seasonally adjusted) according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline broke a four-month trend of increases and was only the fifth month over the past two years in which prices fell.

Over the past 12 months, building materials prices have decreased 1.6%, just the fifth June year-over-year decrease since 2000. The decline is a sharp reversal of June 2017 to June 2018, during which prices increased 8.8%.

The PPI report shows that softwood lumber prices decreased (-1.7%, not seasonally adjusted) in June—the index’s third consecutive monthly decline. Prices remain at their lowest level since February 2017. While weekly prices have been volatile since mid-May according to Random Lengths, the difference between the average prices of softwood lumber in May and June mirrored the PPI data (-1.8% v. -1.7%).

One of the special indexes published by BLS tracks lumber and plywood in one category. Similar to softwood lumber, the lumber and plywood index fell 2.3%. Prices paid for softwood lumber and lumber and plywood have decreased 23.1% and 17.6%, respectively, since June 2018.

The price index for gypsum products continued its downward trend in June, declining 1.9%. In the last 10 months, gypsum prices have only increased twice.

Prices have declined by 6.2% and 10.8% since January 2019 and August 2018, respectively.

Ready-mix concrete prices increased 1.2% in June and remain relatively volatile. Prices have risen by more than 1.0% in two of the past three months, something that has only happened in 18 of the previous 231 months.

 

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