Shortages of Framing Lumber More Widespread than Ever

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by on June 22, 2018 4 Comments

Shortages of framing lumber are now more widespread than at any time since NAHB began tracking the issue in 1994, according to results from the May 2018 survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

More than 30% of single-family builders responding to the survey’s special questions in May reported this shortage, outdistancing the other 22 listed building products and materials by a wide margin. In second place were trusses (with a shortage reported by 24% of builders), followed by lightweight steel and OSB (at 20% each) and plywood (at 19%).

The survey taken last year revealed a much better picture: The shortage percentages for these items were significantly lower – 21% for framing lumber and under 15% for all other products/materials.

It is probably not a coincidence that the top five items on the 2018 list are made of lumber or steel, as each of these building materials have been targeted by the Trump administration with new import tariffs over the past year.

As noted above, the May 2018 reading of 31% is the highest the shortage percentage for framing lumber has been since NAHB incorporated the question into its HMI survey in September 1994. The second-highest reading of 24% was recorded in October 2004, when the nation was in the midst of a housing boom and the annual rate of housing starts often exceeded 2 million (compared to the current rate of about 1.3 million).

Read more analysis from NAHB Senior Economist Paul Emrath in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Nick Gileta says:

    There is increased use of Structural Steel/Aluminum yet This has not been addressed; Why?

  2. Aaron says:

    Not mentioned in the article is the reason for the shortage. At least in my area, trucking is as big of a problem as anything. My local supplier recently had to wait two weeks to get a truckload of 1/2″ cdx delivered that had been sitting on the ground in Chicago for two weeks. But there were no truckers to get it the last 150 miles.

  3. Lilly Hughes says:

    We’ve been down this road before on lumber so it’s hardly do to the the new tariff policies. There’s been concrete. There’s been …. Shortages will continue as long as manufacturing and processing doesn’t keep up with demand. Natural Resources are not keeping up with the surge in humanity because we keep infringing on it.

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