This story was originally published in ProSales.

Sheets of plywood
Adobe Stock Image

Wholesale prices for construction products—particularly wood—have risen several times faster than for wholesale goods overall, today's Producer Price Index report shows.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly report found softwood plywood prices were 26.9 percent higher in February than in the same month in 2017 and had risen 5.3 percent just since January. Meanwhile, wholesale prices for wood trusses rose 17.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, while laminated veneer lumber prices rose 4.8 percent for the year and 0.1 percent over the month. Millwork products rose 4.4 percent for the year and 1.2 percent for the month. (See tables, starting on page 19.)

In contrast, producer prices overall excluding the volatile food, energy, and trade sectors have risen 2.7 percent over the past year. The producer price index generally focuses on costs of raw or semi-processed materials as well as the machines used to create products. What retail customers pay is covered in a separate consumer price index report.

Today's report on wholesale prices generally backs up Random Lengths' latest weekly report on spot prices. The service's composite index for structural panels (including plywood) was 33.9 percent higher as of March 9 than it was a year earlier, while the framing lumber index was 27.1 percent higher.

Not all wholesale wood prices shot up. The index for stock wood kitchen cabinets, related cabinetwork, and countertops has gone down 0.1 percent since February 2017 but did rise 0.7 percent in February from January. And the index for wood window units was up just 2.0 percent for the year and was unchanged from January.

Outside of wood, the index for steel mill products rose 4.8 percent year-over-year and 2.3 percent over the month, while builders hardware increased 1.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. Rebar has gone up only 0.4 percent for the year but climbed 1.4 percent in one month. Asphalt and tar roofing and siding products cost 0.2 percent more since February 2017 but were 4.9 percent cheaper than in January. Meanwhile, gypsum products cost 8.0 percent more than a year earlier and 7.2 percent more than a month prior.

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