Recent promises of tariffs and impending trade wars over metals, softwood lumber, and other imports have had many wondering about the effects on construction material pricing. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC) recently analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it already shows a large increase in cost.
According to ABC’s research, construction materials have risen in cost 8.8% year-over-year and 2.2% from April to May 2018, which is the largest monthly increase since 2008. Nonresidential materials prices rose at a slightly larger percentage, 8.9% and 2.3% respectively.
It should have been obvious that introducing new tariffs would greatly increase materials costs in the short term. The major question is whether or not the U.S. can ramp up production of those materials, like steel, aluminum, and softwood lumber, quickly and cheaply enough to bring the prices back down.
Specifically, iron and steel products have increased 2.5% in 2018 versus 2017 and 2.5% from April to May. Softwood lumber also increased a significant amount, totaling a 6.4% increase month-to-month and 15.4% over the past year.
Plumbing fixtures and fittings have seen the smallest increases, totaling a 2.6% increase for the year and showing a 0.1% drop in costs month-to-month. Concrete products also showed a modest increase, at 0.3% for the month and 5.1% for the year.
ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu is not viewing the news in a positive light. As he mentions in the ABC article, these increased costs could affect the construction industry in a variety of different ways, such as tightening margins and lowering the demand for construction projects.
After 50 weeks of the Top States to Work in Construction countdown, Illinois has been crowned our champion. Illinois didn’t just win, either, they actually demolished the competition. All construction professions combined for the state averaged $33.39 after adjusting for cost of living, which even topped #2 Missouri’s total average hourly rate by $4.42.
Everyone in the construction has heard over and over again how young people just aren’t interested in joining the construction industry. What you don’t hear a lot about are the groups and organizations who are actively working to change that. The ACE Mentor Program is one of those organizations making a positive impact for the next generation.
The biggest story in the construction industry last year was a shocking pedestrian bridge collapse that killed 6 and injured many others on FIU’s campus in Miami, Florida. Since the collapse, there have been many civil lawsuits filed, a closed OSHA investigation, and an ongoing NTSB investigative report. The General Contractor on that project, Munilla Construction Management (MCM), has recently filed for bankruptcy protection, according to the Miami Herald.
It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of our nearly year long journey counting down the top states to work in construction. In the runner up position we have Missouri, yet another from the Midwest in the top 10, is a relatively large state, both in population and size, with a lower than average population density. That could be a contributing factor to its low cost of living, at 10.1% below the national average, according to MERIC.
Ladders are one of the most widely used and necessary pieces of equipment on a construction jobsite. They’re also one of the most misused and abused pieces of equipment on a jobsite. In addition to being one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations each year, it also accounts for too many of the industry’s yearly fatalities and countless injuries.
Minnesota is about as average as you can get in terms of cost of living, according to MERIC, as they’re only 0.2% lower than the national average, making them the closest to the center in the country. That also means that they barely benefited from our cost of living adjustment, but the fact that they’re ranked 3rd says a lot about their un-adjusted wages.
Even though OSHA recently eliminated the need for employers to electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301, citing privacy concerns, companies are still responsible for submitting OSHA Form 300A – and the deadline is fast approaching.
We interrupt this utter domination by Midwest states in our top 10 list with a West Coast state: Washington. This is the only non-Midwest state that has landed in the top 10 so far and, spoiler alert, it’s the only one you’re going to see.
A new 21-story apartment building proposed for Milwaukee, Wisconsin as received unanimous approval from the City Plan Commission. If built, the new tower could possibly be North America’s tallest mass timber building.
Michigan, the mitten shaped state consisting of two peninsulas and which also seems to be both south and north of all surrounding states somehow, lands at #5 on our list. The state is already the 6th state from the Midwest Region in the top 10, joining Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.