Construction input prices fell 0.6% in May compared to the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index data. Nonresidential construction input prices declined 0.5% for the month.
“The headline numbers suggest broad-based deflation in construction materials prices,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “But the declines in input prices are less broad than meets the eye. Much of the deflation is tied to energy, steel and softwood lumber.
Overall construction input prices are 3.7% lower than a year ago, according to the analysis. Nonresidential construction input prices are 3.4% lower. Prices declined in all three energy subcategories. Crude petroleum prices were down 10.2% in May, while unprocessed energy materials were down 7.8%. Natural gas prices fell 2.0% for the month.
“Beyond those spheres, there is plenty of input price inflation,” said Basu. “For instance, concrete prices increased 1.1% for the month and more than 12% for the year. The price of construction machinery and equipment rose marginally for the month and is up more than 9% over the past year. Prices for brick and structural clay tile as well as adhesives and sealants are also up more than 9% over the past 12 months.
In short, says Basu, there are still supply chain challenges, but a weakening global economy has placed downward pressure on several traded commodities.
"With so many public and private megaprojects under development in the United States, it is likely that many input price categories will continue to show inflationary tendencies even if the overall economy dips into recession," he said.