Both our Q1 and Q2 2022 Economic Indicator reports emphasized the effect inflation is having on our industry. It continues to be my goal to share both published trends and commentary as well as local Miles-McClellan experiences.
ENR’s Economics Report on future material and labor price trends, “2022 Third Quarterly Cost Report” was just released and I’m including some information from that report here.
To kick off the report, Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Construction Network, is quoted as saying, “The construction sector has turned into a tale of two worlds. First, the nonresidential sector has been a solid performer as manufacturing, public works and data center construction have flourished. Conversely, single-family construction continued to trend sharply lower as rising mortgage rates have led to worsening affordability. The question, though, is how the entire construction sector will react to still higher interest rates over the coming quarters as the Federal Reserve continues its inflation battle with aggressive rate hikes.”
The report goes on to focus on both materials and labor. It details 15 different construction inputs and notes that prices vary, year-to-date, from -6.0% (copper), to +22.6% (asphalt paving). Of the 15 areas tracked, 12 were higher since January 2022 and all 12 categories were up by double digits through August 2022. The article does go on to explain why ENR anticipates soft lumber and steel to start moving downward in 2023, but acknowledges the trends really depend on how increasing interest rates affect demand.
Labor rates also continue to rise, however, now at a much faster pace. Both union and non-union wages had been averaging between 2-3% annual increases, however, the numbers jumped to 4-5% average increases in 2022. According to Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, “I believe we’re in a prolonged period of 5% wage increases or even more for craftworkers.”
At M-M, we will continue to work very hard for our clients to control unwanted price increases and schedule delays. Our strategy has been to maintain strong relationships with constant communications with our subcontractors and suppliers so that we have the most up-to-date information to share on each of our projects.