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PPI Tables 2022 Producer Price Index to AUGUST

PPI tables show input costs and final costs monthly to nonresidential buildings and residential. Here I use that information to track year-to-date (ytd). For more line items information see also Producer Price Index tables published by AGC 

January Inputs PPI is up 2.6% in nonresidential and 3.3% for residential. Most of the inputs reported here are up less than 2% YTD, but Lumber/Plywood is up 15%. Final costs of contractors is up 1% to 5% and final cost of buildings is up 3% to 6%. SEE also Construction Inflation 2022

3-23-22 update Input Costs through February 2022 to nonresidential buildings up 4.5% year-to-date, residential up 6.4%. Inputs to residential went up 3.0% in Feb. In a typical year of 4% inflation, costs would increase only 0.25% to 0.50% per month. Residential is up 6%+ after the first two months! Most of the inputs reported here are up less than 2% for February, except Lumber/Plywood up 4.1% and Aluminum up 6.2%. Year-to-date, for two months, Lumber/Plywood is up 20% and aluminum is up 12.1%. Watch copper, up 4.9% ytd, for potential world situation interfering with supply. Final costs of contractors and final cost of buildings changed very little in February. Range is mostly up 2% to 4% ytd, but up to 6% year-to-date. 4-12-22 edited, corrections.

4-13-22 update > Input Costs through March 2022 to nonresidential buildings up 7.5% year-to-date, to residential up 9.5% ytd. In a typical year of 4%-5% inflation, costs would increase only 0.25% to 0.50% per month. Residential is now up 9% after the first 3 months of 2022! Keep in mind when reading these year-to-date (YTD) results, these are cumulative for 1st quarter 2022. That’s not a guess at year end results.

The only inputs reported here up more than 2% for March are Lumber/Plywood, up 5.1%, and Aluminum, up 6.2%. Year-to-date, for 3 months, Lumber/Plywood is up 26% and aluminum is up 19.1%. Watch copper, up 7.2% ytd, for potential world situation interfering with supply. Final costs of contractors and final cost of buildings changed very little in February or March. The final cost average of 5 building types is up 5.2% ytd in the first 3 months of 2022.

The PPI inputs through the 1st quarter is putting pressure on the nonres bldgs index for 2022 to move higher than forecast.

5-8-22 Correction to 2020 and 2021 Totals

I had taken the 2020 and 2021 totals from the AGC PPI reports. However, all analysis by Construction Analytics reports inflation as the annual average. AGC reports the annual growth as the December value, so compares Dec to previous Dec. That does not represent annual growth. For example, some costs in 2021 maintained a level 3% annual growth rate for 9 months then rapidly increased to 9% in the final 3 months. AGC reports the annual growth at 9%, whereas the annual average is 4%. Inflation rate reporting must be consistent, you cannot mix Dec/Dec and annual average. Therefore, all PPI data has been edited using the original source data from Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5-12-22 Construction PPI for April Construction Inputs post slowest monthly gains so far this year.

Nonresidential Inputs up 0.9% in Apr, up 10.0% YTD. Residential Inputs up 0.8% in Apr, up 15.6% YTD

Final Demand (Selling Price) Nonres Bldgs post strong gains in 1st 4 months, up 4.1% in April, up 9.0% ytd. Warehouses up 12% ytd.

6-14-22 Construction PPI for MAY Construction Inputs to residential post, for second consecutive month, slowest monthly gains so far this year.

May PPI data for construction > Big gainers from 2021 have slowed in 2022, Lumber, Steel, Sheet Metal, Rubber/Plastics, Copper. New gainers in 2022 are Ready Mix Conc, Conc Pipe, Paving Mixtures, Gypsum. We could see the same levels of inflation as last year, just from different products.

Final Demand pricing is updated every 3-4 months. Just had a major revision in April, some items increased by 50-75%. May increases look low, but the next revision month could change that, as did April. Better to look at this indicator quarterly, after the revision month.

7-14-22 Construction PPI for JUNE Construction Inputs to residential down for thrid consecutive month.

June PPI data for construction > Biggest gain in June is Deisel Fuel, up 14.1%, up 93.8% year-to-date. Biggest decline is Lumber/Plywood, down 14.7% in June, now down 1.9% ytd.

Final Demand (Selling Price) of nonresidential buildings and trades continues to climb, buildings on average up 0.5% in June, up 9.5% ytd, trades up 1.0% for June, up 8.1% ytd.

In this June report, there are many instances where FRED has revised number in previous 2022 months, mostly in the prior two months, but in some cases back to January. So, the year-to-date change from May to June will not match the May ytd previously reported x the June change.

8-12-22 Construction PPI for JULY Construction Inputs to residential down for third consecutive month.

July PPI data for construction > Biggest gainers in July – Ready Mix Concrete posts largest monthly gain of the year, up 2.7%. Now up 9% in 7 months, also up 9.3% compared to same 7 mo 2021. Biggest decliner – Diesel Fuel, down 16% for the month. Now up 62% for first 7mo of 2022, but up 77% compared to same 7mo in 2021.

Final Demand (Selling Price) of nonresidential buildings and trades continues to climb, buildings on average up 6.2% for 2nd quarter (M,J,J), up 12% ytd. Trades up 5.7% for Q2, up 12.5% ytd.

Material Inputs PPI represents change in cost of producing those materials. Average material cost is about 50% of final bldg cost. But with several margins tacked on before install, PPI $ represents less than half of final bldg cost, perhaps 40%.

Final Demand PPI, or Selling Price, represents contractors bid price to client. Includes labor, mtrl, equip, overhead and profit. Labor includes change in wages and productivity. Every three months (Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct) BLS performs an update survey to correct these Final Demand indices. For the past three quarterly updates about 80% to 90% of the change in the index was posted in the update month. Therefore, they should not be referenced monthly. These are quarterly indices.

9-14-22 Construction PPI for AUGUST

Construction Inputs to nonresidential buildings dropped for the second consecutive month after posting only a 0.4% increase in June, now down -2.4% for the past three months, but still up 9.8% year-to-date. Residential inputs are down for the fourth consecutive month, down -4.4% since April, up 10.1% ytd. Costs are still high, but are moving in the right direction after 1st quarter costs that averaged +10% to +15%. Historically, most cost increases are posted in the 1st quarter and the least in the 4th quarter.

Average of all inputs for nonresidential buildings is up 18.6% for eight months 2022 compared to the same months 2021. Avg inputs for residential compared to 2021 is up 14.9%

  • Ready Mix Concrete, up 7 of 8 months, ytd is up10.2%
  • Lumber/Plywood, down 4 of the last 5 months a total 28%, ytd down -6.7%
  • Fab Str Steel, down -2.1% the last two months, up 11.5% ytd
  • Diesel Fuel, down -28% in last 2mo, up 43% ytd

PPI $ represents less than half of final bldg cost, perhaps 40%.

It will take two more months before we see the effect these changes have on Final Demand PPI, which is updated every three months. Next update is to October data released mid-Nov. Every three months (Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct data) BLS performs an update survey to correct these Final Demand indices. For the past three quarterly updates about 80% to 90% of the change in the index was posted in the update month. Therefore, they should not be referenced monthly. These are acting like quarterly indices.

PPI TRENDS HELP TO INTERPRET THE DATA

A few years back I looked at PPI historical data. This is what I found.

  • 60% of the time, the highest increase of the year in the PPI is in the first quarter.
  • 75% of the time, two-thirds of the annual increase occured in the first six months.
  • In 25 years, the highest increase for the year has never been in Q4.
  • 60% of the time, the lowest increase of the year in the PPI is in Q4.
  • 50% of the time, Q4 is negative, yet in 25 years the PPI was negative only four times.

So far, of the 15 items I track in the materials tables, with eight months of data, more than 50% have the highest increase of the year in the 1st quarter.

October Record Increase to Construction Inflation 11-10-21

What’s the Construction Inflation rate?

From Sept to Oct construction materials input price changes were normal, but Final Demand prices for October increased in one month by what could be considered an entire year’s increase. We’ve been watching the price pass thru catch up slowly, until now.

This is the single largest monthly increase in Final Demand pricing since final demand records began in 2006. Prior to this, based on changes in recent months, I expected future cost increases to add on slowly. So I wasn’t expecting the huge jump all at once. This may be some increases that were occurring over a few months that finally got captured in the index.

In October, the Final demand cost for Buildings and Trades averaged +12% year-to-date. In July, August and September it was between 5% and 6%. A change like this in one month has never occurred before. In fact, this one-month change is greater than any annual change on record. So, it resets the baseline for all forecasts.

For Oct, Nonresidential Buildings 2021 inflation is estimated at 6.8% and Residential at 15%. The forecast for 2022 is estimated at 4.5% for nonresidential buildings inflation and 7% for residential. See inflation and PPI data on my blog for more.

It must be noted that huge jump in nonresidential buildings inflation may not yet be picked up in many of the industry indices that we reference. Construction Analytics BCI is now updated to include the 11-10-21 PPI final demand inflation. Some sources update only quarterly, some semi-annually. After this event, I would expect to see a change in most other sources, which may update sometime over the next quarter.

One important thing, when inflation turns out to be higher than you thought, that means productivity is lower than you thought.

See Inflation – PPI data Jun to OCT Updated 11-10-21

Also see 2021 Construction Inflation – updated 11-10-21

Inflation – PPI data Jun to OCT Updated 11-10-21

7-15-21 Final demand pricing is still well below materials price increases. However, it’s hard to visualize how more of the cost does not get passed on to consumer. I’m expecting future reports will show final cost inflation increasing.

11-10-21 Got That ^ right.

10-14-21 My current forecast for inflation in 2021 is now 4.5% for nonresidential buildings and 13% for residential. Residential inflation seems to have slowed but nonresidential is headed towards 5%.

11-10-21 Final Demand Bldgs and Trades prices for October gained a year’s worth of increase (6.5%) in one month for Oct. This is the largest monthly increase on record back to the start of these series, 2006.

11-16-21 My current forecast for inflation in 2021 is now 6.5% for nonresidential buildings and 14% for residential. I expected to see some increase, just not this much. The PPI reports give the first clues to pass thru costs.

See the most recent inflation comments 2021 Construction Inflation updated 10-15-21

Most years, inflation climbs at a steady rate. 2021 could end up being a year in which inflation is drastically different in one or two quarters vs the entire year.

8-13-21 As expected, many Final Demand prices surged in July by 1.5% to 2%.

10-14-21 Final Demand Trades prices up again since July. Some Buildings increased. Wood products have come way down, but almost every other material product has gone up, metals way up.

PPI INPUTS only Sept 2021

PPI Final Demand only Sept 2021

11-10-21  From Sept to Oct materials price changes were normal, but Final Demand prices jumped what could be considered an entire year’s worth of increase in just one month. We’ve been watching the price pass thru increase slowly, until now. This is the single largest monthly increase in Final Demand pricing that I can remember.

PPI INPUTS only Oct 2021

PPI Final Demand only Oct 2021

Link to AGC page of producer price monthly reports

Producer Price Index Year-to-date June & July 2020

7-14-20 updated 8-28-20

Producer Price Index selected items year-to-date through June 2020. All values compare most recent June pricing to December 2019. Pricing represents 6-month change, not annualized change.

  • -2.5%  Inputs to new nonresidential construction
  • -0.9%  Inputs to new residential construction
  • +1.0%  Final demand construction
  • -0.4%  New Warehouse Bldg
  • +1.2% New School Bldg
  • +0.7% New Office Bldg
  • +1.4% New Industrial Bldg
  • +1.4% New Healthcare Bldg
  • New work on nonresidential buildings
  • +0.7% Concrete contractors
  • +1.8% Roofing contractors
  • +1.4% Electrical contractors
  • +1.2% Plumbing contractors
  • Selected Material Inputs
  • -42.0% #2 Diesel fuel
  • +2.7% Ready Mix Concrete
  • +1.3% Precast concrete products
  • +1.3% Flat Glass
  • +0.1% Gypsum products
  • +6.1% Lumber and Plywood
  • -5.7% Steel pipe and tube
  • -11.5% Aluminum mill shapes
  • +2.2% Fabricated structural metal
  • +10.3% Fabricated structural metal bar joists and reinforcing bars
  • +11.9% Fabricated structural metal for non-industrial buildings
  • -3.7% Fabricated structural metal for bridges
  • -2.2% Fabricated steel plate
  • +1.6% Iron and steel scrap

AGC’s Table of June 2020 PPI

AGC does not publish year-to-date values. The data in this post is the combined effect of comparing June to March and March to December.

Here’s the link to AGC PPI reports for all months

8-28-20 There were some pretty dramatic changes in July in the Producer Price Index selected items year-to-date. Edited here, all values compare most recent JULY pricing to December 2019. Pricing represents 7-month change, not annualized change.

  • -1.0%  Inputs to new nonresidential construction ytd through JULY
  • +1.0%  Inputs to new residential construction ytd through JULY
  • +1.6%  Final demand construction ytd through JULY
  • +1.0%  New Warehouse Bldg
  • +1.8% New School Bldg
  • +1.7% New Office Bldg
  • +2.2% New Industrial Bldg
  • +2.2% New Healthcare Bldg
  • New work on nonresidential buildings ytd through JULY
  • +0.5% Concrete contractors
  • +2.2% Roofing contractors
  • +1.7% Electrical contractors
  • +0.7% Plumbing contractors
  • Selected Material Inputs ytd through JULY
  • -24.0% #2 Diesel fuel
  • +2.8% Ready Mix Concrete
  • +1.3% Precast concrete products
  • +1.2% Flat Glass
  • +0.3% Gypsum products
  • +13.8% Lumber and Plywood
  • -5.5% Steel pipe and tube
  • -10.0% Aluminum mill shapes
  • -1.0% Fabricated structural metal
  • +0.8% Fabricated structural metal bar joists and reinforcing bars
  • +0.4% Fabricated structural metal for non-industrial buildings
  • +1.4% Fabricated structural metal for bridges
  • +2.7% Fabricated steel plate
  • -2.8% Iron and steel scrap

PPI Materials Prices YTD June 2019

Price changes listed here are year-to-date 2019 through June. Change is for 6 months YTD, not annualized. As a reminder, the Producer Price Index (PPI) DOES NOT include imports (imports are not produced in the US) or tariffs. Only pricing for domestically produced materials is included. That would include any decisions domestic producers make influenced by tariffs on imported products.

Prices for years prior can be found PPI Construction Materials Inputs Index

PPI Tables Update to June 2019

Construction PPI Excludes Imports and Tariffs

When assessing or tracking the pricing affect of tariffs on construction materials, you need to understand that the Producer Price Index (PPI) does not include imports (imports are not produced in the US) or tariffs. See items 4 and 24 in the FAQ provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction PPI changes reflect pricing decisions domestic producers make on domestic products in reaction to tariffs on imported products. Tariffs have big impact on domestic prices.

BLS explanation of method and definitions

The price change we see in the PPI for construction materials reflects the domestic material prices of ALL other domestically produced materials used in the industry. While tariffs may affect only 10% of products used in the industry the PPI shows us the domestic producers reaction applied to the other 90%.

For example: Steel tariffs of +25% applied only on imported steel, affected only 30% (the imported share) of steel used in US. However the PPI shows us that all other domestically produced steel in the US and used in construction increased in price between 12% and 22% in 2018. Prices of domestic steel have receded somewhat, now ranging from +7% to +13%. But the point is that tariffs caused a price increase also in domestic steel.

AGC Tables of Construction PPI

The cost of ALL DOMESTIC steel mill products (of all types) produced in the US increased 18% in 2018 after the steel tariffs were imposed. That is domestic producers pricing response in reaction to tariffs. Tariffs impacted pricing decisions on all domestically produced products, not just the imported products. The increase has since receded but is still up 10%. Consumers pay the price.

Inflation and Forecasting Presentation Advancing Precon & Estm Conf 5-22-19

This is a PDF of slides (including notes) from my

Construction Inflation & Forecasting Presentation

at Hanson Wade

Advancing Preconstruction & Estimating Conference

 Dallas, TX 5-22-19

Advancing Pre-construction & Estimating conference 2019

Full EdZ Presentation Inflation-Forecasting w notes HW-APE 5-22-19 PDF

PPI Construction Materials Inputs Index

2-20-18 original post

Feb 2019 Tables and Plots updated to end of 2018

Here’s the link to the June 2019 data

Here’s a link to the AGC APRIL 2020 summary report.

Producer Price Index of Materials Inputs to Construction.  The 1st two plots are PPI Final Costs which includes all overhead and profit as sold. All other plots are PPI Input costs. Changes in PPI Input costs at the producer level may not reflect changes in actual pricing to contractors or changes in final cost as installed to building owner. Input Costs do not reflect retail markup or mark down and do not reflect overhead and profit markups that may change according to market activity.

PPI for Construction Inputs IS NOT a direct indicator of construction inflation. It does not represent selling price, the final cost of materials put-in-place which includes cost of labor, overhead and profit.  See below link to description of Ovhd&Profit.

Cautions When Using PPI Inputs to Construction!

PPI Inputs and Inflation not only can vary widely but also may not even move in the same direction. See the above link for a table comparing PPI% vs Inflation%.

PPI Final Bldg 2-20-19

PPI Final Trades 2-20-19

PPI Nonresidential Building Types

PPI Nonresidential Building Construction Sector — Contractors

Specific Building and Contractor PPI Indices are Final Demand or Selling Price indices. They are plotted above.

See this article by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Nonresidential building construction overhead and profit markups applied to select Nonres building types

Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index measures PPI cost of materials price at producer level. The PPIs that constitute Table 9 of the BLS PPI Report measure changes in net prices for materials and supplies typically sold to the construction sector, but do not represent the final cost installed. They are known as PPI Inputs. They are plotted below.

PPI Materials and Supply INPUTS to Construction Industries

Here’s a brief summary of some of the PPI statistics tracked here:

  • One year (2018) change
  • biggest increases > Steel Pipe and Tube 21%, Fabricated Steel for Bridges 15%, Ornamental Metals 12%, Fab Structural Steel for Buildings 12%
  • biggest declines > Copper and Brass shapes -6%, Lumber and Plywood -4%
  • PPI Final cost of buildings and Trades up 4% to 6%
  • Final cost of buildings posted largest increases since 2008.
  • Final cost of trades (except for Roofing) posted largest increases since 2009.
  • Steel Products posted largest increases since 2008
  • Lumber and Plywood, which had risen dramatically (+30%) earlier in the year, now down 4% from Dec ’17
  • Two year (2017+2018) changes
  • biggest increases > Diesel fuel 45%, Steel Pipe &Tube 31%, Aluminum Shapes 16%, Fabricated Structural Metal for Buildings 16%, Ornamental metals 16%
  • no declines over a two year period

 

Most stable pricing over last 5 years, these items did not change by more than 5%/yr in any given year during the last 5 years and net the smallest total change for 5 years:  Concrete Brick and Block, Concrete Pipe, Ready-Mix Concrete, Plastic Products, Insulation, Fabricated Steel Plate, Sand/Gravel/Crushed Stone.

 

PPI Inputs to Industries 2-20-19

PPI Materials Brick Block 2-20-19

PPI Materials Cement 2-20-19

PPI Materials Glass Roof 2-20-19

PPI Materials Gyp Wood 2-20-19

PPI Materials Metals 2-20-19

PPI Materials Steel 2-20-19

The Materials Inputs indices plots above are generated by indexing the December to December percent changes in the table below. Data updated to include Dec 2018 published January 2019.

PPI x Materials Percents 2006-2018 2-10-19

PPI xx Trades Final Cost 2006-2018 2-10-19

PPI xx Buildings Final Cost 2006-2018 2-10-19

Each month,  puts out tables and explanation of recent changes in producer price indexes and employment cost indexes for construction materials inputs, and building types and subcontractor final demand cost. Best source available.  Watch this AGC page for monthly updates to the PPI

Here’s the link to the June 2019 data

 

2018 Construction Outlook Articles Index

Articles Detailing 2018 Construction Outlook

Links will open in a new tab

These links point to articles here on this blog that summarize end-of-year data for 2017 and present projections for 2018.

Spend current vs constant 2018 3-4-18

Most Recently Published

July Construction Starts Fall but 3moAvg at New High

Construction Spending June 2018 8-1-18

June Construction Starts Reach New Highs 7-25-18

Construction JOLTS – What’s wrong with this picture? 7-10-18

What Jobs Shortage? 7-6-18

Construction Spending 2016-2017 Revisions 7-1-18

New Construction Starts May 2018 Near All-Time High 6-24-18

Construction Spending April 2018 – 6-1-18

Notes on March 2018 Construction Spending 5-2-18

Construction Activity Notes 4-25-18

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Nonresidential Bldgs 3-28-18

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

Construction Economics Brief Notes 3-10-18

Construction Spending is Back 3-9-18

Construction Jobs 3-8-18

Publicly Funded Construction 2-28-18

PPI Materials Input Index 2-20-18

Down the Infrastructure Rabbit Hole 2-16-18

Inflation in Construction 2018 – What Should You Carry? 2-15-18

Residential Construction Jobs Shortages 2-3-18

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-26-18

Cautions When Using PPI Inputs to Construction! 1-15-18

Indicators To Watch For 2018 Construction Spending? 1-10-18

Spending Summary 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 12-3-17

Backlog 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 11-10-17

Starts Trends 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 11-8-17

In What Category is That Construction Cost? 11-15-17

Construction Jobs / Workload Balance 11-7-17

Constant Dollar Construction Growth 11-2-17

Is Infrastructure Construction Spending Near All-Time Lows? 10-10-17

Summary

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-26-18

Spending Summary 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 12-3-17

Construction Spending is Back 3-9-18

2017 Results

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

Spending Summary 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 12-3-17

2018 Starting Backlog & New Starts

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-24-18

Backlog 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 11-10-17

Starts Trends 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 11-8-17

Construction Starts and Spending Patterns 9-26-17

2018 Spending Forecast

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-26-18

So, About Those Posts “construction spending declines…” 10-4-17

Construction Spending Almost Always Revised UP  5-1-17

Nonresidential Buildings

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Nonresidential Bldgs 3-28-18

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-24-18

Nonres Bldgs Construction Spending Midyear 2017 Forecast 7-24-17

Residential

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

Residential Construction Jobs Shortages 2-3-18

Infrastructure Outlook

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

Down the Infrastructure Rabbit Hole 2-16-18

2018 Construction Spending – Briefs 1-24-18

Is Infrastructure Construction Spending Near All-Time Lows? 10-10-17

Infrastructure – Ramping Up to Add $1 trillion 1-30-17

Calls for Infrastructure Problematic 1-12-17

Public Construction

2018 Construction Spending Forecast – Mar 2018

Publicly Funded Construction 2-28-18

Spending Summary 2018 Construction Forecast Fall 2017 12-3-17

Infrastructure & Public Construction Spending 3-5-17

Materials

PPI Materials Input Index  2-20-18

Jobs

Construction Jobs 3-8-18

Residential Construction Jobs Shortages 2-3-18

Construction Jobs / Workload Balance 11-2-17

Construction Jobs Growing Faster Than Volume 5-5-17

Inflation

Inflation in Construction 2018 – What Should You Carry? 2-15-18

Constant Dollar Construction Growth 11-2-17

Construction Inflation Index Tables UPDATED 2-12-18

Construction Cost Inflation – Commentary  updated 2-13-18

US Historical Construction Cost Indices 1800s to 1957

 

 

Cautions When Using PPI Inputs to Construction!

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for material inputs to construction gives us an indication whether costs for material inputs are going up or down. The PPI tracks producers’ cost to produce the product and supply finished products to retailers or contractors. However, that is far from the total cost from the contractor.

A good example is steel. The producer price for steel from the mill might be $750/ton for long beams and columns. The only increases captured at the producer level might be the changes in cost for raw material, energy to manufacture and the producers labor and markup. But the structural steel contractor is then responsible for delivery to shop, detailing, shop fabrication, transport to construction site, load and unload, cranes and welding equipment needed to install, installation crews and finally overhead and profit accounting for at least eight more points of potential cost change. Finally the steel subcontractor must then assess the market conditions, whether tight or favorable to higher profits, to adjust the bid price or selling price. The final cost of steel installed could be $3000/ton.

The PPI for Construction Inputs IS NOT a final indicator of construction inflation. It is an input to construction inflation. It does not represent the selling price, nor does it give any indication of the trend, up or down, of selling price.

In 2009 PPI for inputs was flat but construction inflation, as measured by final cost of buildings, was down 8% to 10%. In 2010, the PPI for construction inputs was up 5.3% but the selling price was flat. Construction inflation, based on several decades of trends, is approximately double consumer inflation. However, from mid-2009 to late 2012, that long-term trend did not hold up. During that period, PPI ranged from 0% to +6.8%, but construction inflation/deflation ranged from -10% to +2.3%, lower than PPI for all four years, something which seldom occurs. Construction inflation/deflation was primarily influenced by depressed bid margins, which had been driven lower due to diminished work volume.

The following table shows the differences between the PPI Inputs from 2011 to 2017 and the actual inflation for the major construction sectors. This table shows clearly that PPI Inputs and Inflation not only can vary widely but also may not even move in the same direction.

AAA PPI vs Inflation 2011-2017

The PPI tables published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics do include several line items that represent Final Trades Cost or Whole Building Cost. Those PPI items don’t give us any details about the producer price or retail price of the materials used, but they do include all of the contractors costs incurred, including markups, on the final product delivered to the consumer, the building owner. I would note however that those line items in the PPI almost always show lower inflation than final Selling Price inflation indices developed separately from the PPI. Follow this link to table of inflation values which includes the PPI final cost for trades and buildings. 

Construction Managers responsible for working with the client to manage project cost, part of which includes preparing a full building cost estimate, should not rely on PPI values as an indication of inflation. Selling price inflation indices are more appropriate indices to use to adjust project costs.

It is always important to carry the proper value for cost inflation. Whether adjusting the cost of a recently built project to predict what it might cost to build a similar project in the near future, or answering a client question, “What will it cost if I delay my project start?”, the proper value for inflation (which differs by sector and differs every year) can make or break your estimate.

Contractors responsible for a particular building material, although the PPI Inputs will not track market conditions sale prices from producer to the contractor, can get some indication of whether material prices are rising or falling. Contractors should be aware of PPI trends to interpret the data throughout the year.

PPI TRENDS HELP TO INTERPRET THE DATA

  • 60% of the time, the highest increase of the year in the PPI is in the first quarter.
  • 75% of the time, two-thirds of the annual increase occured in the first six months.
  • In 25 years, the highest increase for the year has never been in Q4.
  • 60% of the time, the lowest increase of the year in the PPI is in Q4.
  • 50% of the time, Q4 is negative, yet in 25 years the PPI was negative only four times.

So when you see monthly news reports from the industry exclaiming, “PPI is up strong for Q1” or “PPI dropped in the 4th Qtr.” it helps to have an understanding that this may not be unusual at all and instead may be the norm.

 

PPI Construction Materials Inputs Index

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