Gypsum, Lumber Finish One and Two in 1999’s Building Material Price Inflation Race

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The Labor Department’s construction materials composite price index rose by 0.2% between November and December of last year.

March 01, 2000

The Labor Department’s construction materials composite price index rose by 0.2% between November and December of last year. This brought the December 1999 composite index to a level 1.7% above its reading for the final month of 1998. On an annual average basis, the construction materials price index moved up 1.0% between 1998 and 1999 after declining by 0.5% over the previous year.

Gypsum product price inflation never did subside during the second half of last year despite a marginally slower new home construction market and the addition of a modest amount of new production capacity. December 1999 gypsum product prices were 23.1% higher than at year-end 1998, and on an annual average basis prices were 17.2% higher last year than during 1998.

Average lumber prices moved up another 1.4% during the final month of 1999. After trending steadily downward since peaking in mid-summer, lumber prices rose by a cumulative 2.0% over the final two months of 1999. December 1999 average lumber prices were 7.6% higher than a year earlier, and ended 1999 4.7% higher than in 1998.

Prices of roofing materials and of structural steel products used in buildings also increased in both November and December after showing little change during the late summer and early fall of last year. For the year as a whole, average roofing material prices declined by 1.0% from their 1998 level--but ended the year 1.1% higher than during December 1998. The average price for fabricated structural metal used in building construction was 2.5% higher during December 1999 than at year-end 1998, and for the year as a whole recorded an inflation rate of 1.5%.

Prices for some other categories of construction materials fell slightly during the final months of 1999. Average ready-mixed concrete prices were 0.4% lower in December than during November of last year, but 1.6% higher than in December 1998.


Building Materials Price Inflation


(Index, 1982-100)

        Annual % Change
  Oct-99 Nov-99 Dec-99 1998 1999 2000
Total Construction Materials 142.6 142.9 143.2 -0.5 1.0 1.4
Lumber 183.0 184.1 86.7 -7.7 4.7 2.8
Structural Steel 139.9 141.1 141.5 2.9 1.5 2.5
Gypsum 218.6 223.2 227.4 4.0 17.2 3.0
Concrete 143.8 143.8 143.3 3.0 2.6 2.2
Roofing 93.2 93.5 94.1 0.3 -1.0 0.9
Ceramic Tile 134.4 134.2 133.9 -2.9 0.4 -0.4
Historical Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Forecast: Professional Builder


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