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Construction Material Costs Outpace Contractors’ Pricing, AGC Says | Rental Equipment Register

Double-digit price increases for key construction materials pushed up construction costs in March, while the prices charged by contractors remained moderate, according to a new analysis of federal producer price data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged policy makers to avoid adopting restrictions on international trade that would add to materials costs and potentially drive up the price of infrastructure, buildings and new homes and apartments.

“Prices have jumped in recent months for diesel fuel, steel, copper, wallboard and lumber — materials essential for houses, nonresidential buildings and infrastructure projects,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Contractors generally cannot pass these costs along on projects that have broken ground, and the data show they have not been able to price new buildings at a level that reflects their rising materials, services, and labor costs.”

From March 2016 to March 2017, there was a 4.4 percent rise in the producer price index for goods used in construction — the government’s broadest measure of the cost of goods and consumable items like fuel that go into all types of construction, ranging from highways and other infrastructure to schools, private buildings, apartments and houses. In addition, the price index for services purchased by contractors rose 2.3 percent and a separate measure of labor costs, average hourly earnings in construction, climbed 2.4 percent. Over the same period, the price index for new nonresidential buildings—a measure of what contractors say they would charge to put up specific types of structures—increased only 1.4 percent.

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Construction Material Costs Outpace Contractors’ Pricing, AGC Says.