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AGC: Nonresidential construction input prices soar in April

By |  May 13, 2022

AGC

Prices of materials and services used in new nonresidential construction leaped nearly 21 percent in April compared to a year earlier, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of government data.

The association urges the Biden administration to end tariffs on key construction materials and reconsider its recently proposed Buy America regulations. AGC says these regulations will make it harder for firms to find and pay for key construction materials.

“Nonresidential contractors have endured 12 months of 20 percent increases in the cost of items they need to build projects,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “While they have been able to pass some of those increased costs on to clients, most of those increases have come out of their own bottom line.”

The producer price index for inputs to new nonresidential construction – the prices charged by goods producers and service providers such as distributors and transportation firms – rose 0.8 percent from March to April and 20.9 percent over the past 12 months. An index for new nonresidential building construction – a measure of what contractors say they would charge to erect five types of nonresidential buildings – rose 4.1 percent for the month and 19.9 percent from a year earlier.

A wide variety of inputs accounted for the increase in the cost index, according to AGC.

The price index for diesel fuel jumped 86.5 percent year-over-year. The index for aluminum mill shapes climbed 44.8 percent. The index for architectural coatings such as paint grew 32.1 percent.

There were increases of more than 20 percent in the indexes for plastic construction products, which rose 29.9 percent; truck transportation of freight, up 27.4 percent; steel mill products, up 25.1 percent; and roofing asphalt and tar products, up 20.8 percent.

In addition, there were double-digit increases in several other price indexes that affect construction costs, Simonson notes. He cites, as examples, the index for insulation products, which rose 19.6 percent over 12 months; gypsum products, up 17.8 percent; copper and brass mill shapes, which increased 16.8 percent; paving mixtures and blocks, up 14.4 percent; and concrete products, up 10.9 percent.

Association officials say the best way to keep costs from rising even more is to allow contractors to buy materials from the widest possible range of suppliers and eliminate measures that artificially inflate product costs.

Officials urge the Biden administration to end tariffs that are restricting supplies of steel, aluminum, solar panels and numerous other products. They also call on the administration to reconsider its Buy America regulations, that AGC officials say will make it much harder for firms to find and afford materials.

“Inflexible tariffs and overly restrictive regulations are making it harder for contractors to find and pay for key materials,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “Needlessly inflating the cost of construction and leaving employers with less money available to hire new staff is a bad way to rebuild infrastructure or boost the economy.”

Jack Kopanski

About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor for Pit & Quarry and Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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