Average construction material/supply prices rose 0.3% from April to May. Prices in the construction industry have now increased during three consecutive months of 2002 after a decline of 0.9% from full-year 2000 to full-year 2002. However, compared with prices in May of last year, average prices received by U.S. manufacturers of construction supplies and materials in May 2002 were down 0.3% after over-the-year increases during the past two months.
Overall lumber prices moved 1.3% lower during May after four consecutive months of increase. However, the price index covering all softwood and hardwood lumber was still 5.3% higher in May 2002 than it had been in December 2001. But average lumber prices this May were 4.6% lower than in May of last year.
Gypsum product prices, on the other hand, soared 5.3% from April to May after declining during two of the first three months this year. On an annual average basis of measure, gypsum products purchased in 2001 cost builders and remodelers 22.3% less than in 2000 (at midyear, gypsum prices were more than 30% lower than they were a year earlier). But this May, average gypsum product prices were 18.1% higher than in May 2001 - not an uncommon swing for an industry as volatile as this.
Average prices for ceramic floor and wall tile (+0.8%), hand/edge tools (+0.4%), plumbing fixtures (+0.1%) and paving asphalt (+0.1%) also moved higher from April to May. Moderate-to-small average price declines were recorded in the structural steel (-0.5%), lighting fixtures (-0.4%) and flat glass (-0.2%) product categories.
Average prices were lower this May than in May 2001 for tile products (-18.0%), lumber (-4.6%), structural steel (-2.1%), flat glass (-1.2%), paving asphalt (-1.2%) and lighting fixtures (-1.0%). Prices have risen during the past 12 months for gypsum products (+18.1%), unitary air-conditioning units (+1.5%), plumbing products (+0.9%) and asphalt/tar shingles (+0.5%). The price composite covering the full range of construction materials and supplies was 0.3% lower this May than in May 2001.