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Building Product Prices Plunge
Across-The-Board Decline of 1.6 Percent

Prices for materials and products builders routinely plummeted in September, and are down 5.3 percent when compared to the same month in 2014.

Prices for key raw materials and products routinely used by the construction industry nosedived 1.6 percent in September, the Associated Builders and Contractors reports.

Those same prices, on a cumulative basis, dropped 0.9 percent in August, and are down 5.3 percent on a year-to-year basis, the largest annual decline since October 2009, the ABC said.

Prices for products used solely by residential construction companies dipped 1.6 percent on a month-to-month basis, and dropped 6 percent when compared to September 2014.

Only three of the 11 key construction input prices increased from August to September: Plumbing fixtures and fittings climbed 0.1 percent, and have jumped 1.1 percent year-to-year; concrete products expanded 0.7 percent, and are up 3 percent from September 2014; and crude petroleum prices increased 2.3 percent, but have dropped 54.3 percent on an annual basis.

The input prices that either fell or were flat:
Crude energy materials dipped 1 percent in September, and are down 39.9 percent when compared to the same month in 2014.

Fabricated structural metal products fell 0.l percent month-to-month, and prices are down 0.6 percent from a year ago.

Iron and steel prices dropped 1.1 percent in September, and have declined 18.8 percent on an annual basis. Steel mill products were off 0.8 percent for the month, and prices have dropped 14.9 percent in a year-to-year comparison.

Nonferrous wire and cable products dipped 0.8 percent in September, and are down 7.8 percent from the same time last year.

Softwood lumber is 3.8 percent lower on a monthly basis, and prices have declined 12.2 percent from a year ago. Prepared asphalt, tar roofing and siding decreased 1.9 percent for the month, but jumped 2.5 percent when compared to September 2014.

Natural gas prices dropped 7.5 percent in September, and have plummeted 35.8 percent on a year-to-year basis.

Building Worker Shortage Escalating

The nation's shortage of skilled laborers in the construction industry is worsening, a leading consultant to the building and engineering industries has found.

FMI Corp. has just released its 2015 Talent Development Survey in the Construction Industry, and one of its key points is that the labor shortage has intensified.

In an FMI survey of two years ago, 53 percent of the companies that responded said they were having difficulty finding qualified employees. But this metric jumped to 86 percent in the latest survey, FMI says.

Most construction companies lack any sort of process to develop and promote high-performing employees, FMI also found.

In addition, most firms don't tie training expenditures to management performance, and annual reviews are typically the way many companies try to improve employee production.

"People-development is critical to companies' future success and ability to stay competitive," Chris Daum, president of FMI Capital Advisors, said. " It is especially important in an environment of skilled labor shortage and increasing competition."

Comments from executives and employees of companies in the engineering and construction industries form the basis of the survey. FMI asked for their opinions about people development, talent retention, labor force structure and succession plans, among other questions.

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October 13, 2019, 6:45 pm PDT

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