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Average input prices down slightly in January

The average price of commonly used construction inputs fell by 0.7 percent from December to January but remained up by 1.6 percent for the year, according to an analysis of federal date released on Thursday.

Drawing on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Associated Builders and Contractors found the latest figures suggest average input prices have declined for three months in a row and for four of the previous six months.

Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist, said that’s quite a change from the trend observed early last year. Prices had then been on the rise for many months amid new tariffs and a growing economy. Global demand softened in the second of 2018, though, leading to lower prices for oil, copper and other commodities.

“That has in turn influenced construction input prices,” Basu said. “For contractors, this helps sustain profit margins at a time of rapidly growing worker compensation costs. For consumers of construction services, this should help lead to more favorable bids and greater likelihood that projects, whether publicly or privately financed, will move forward.”

Among individual inputs, the biggest average price decreases from December to January were seen for natural gas, whose average price went down by 32.2 percent, and unprocessed energy materials, down by 19 percent. Still, over the yearlong period from January 2018 to January 2019, the price of natural gas was up 20.2 percent.

Other inputs were also becoming more pricey over the yearlong period, including plumbing fixtures and fittings (up 3.7 percent), fabricated structural-metal products (7.6 percent), iron and steel (11.3 percent), steel-mill products (18.9 percent), concrete products (3.7 percent) and prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding products (9.4 percent). Only crude petroleum, down by 24.1 percent, and unprocessed energy materials, down by 4.2 percent, saw their average prices decline over the same stretch of months.

About Dan Shaw, [email protected]

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 414-225-1807.

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