Weekly changes in the prices of diesel and lumber give a quick snapshot into the state of staffing in the construction and distribution industries.
Diesel Price Tracker
National Average Price Per Gallon: $2.788
Crude oil prices, which were pushed higher by Hurricane Harvey, are starting to stabilize.
The storm caused a total of eight Texas refineries to shut down entirely, and more to operate at reduced capacity. But now that the refineries are producing again, crude oil prices are expected to fall.
Autumn tends to be a time of relatively weak demand for crude. Analysts project that the end of the summer travel season will decrease prices further.
Lumber Price Tracker
Random lengths – framing lumber: $429
Random lengths – panels/plywood: $521
Framing lumber prices rose again, although not as sharply as in previous weeks.
The current price, $421, is the highest price for framing lumber since March of 2013.
Meanwhile, composite panel prices rose significantly. Home centers are buying heavily, spurred by this year’s turbulent hurricane season.
The aftermath of Hurricane Irma has led to a big increase in demand for storm-cleanup workers.
“The types of jobs we see from employers are in a number of areas,” said Daniel Culbertson, an economist at Indeed.com. “They include positions directly related to rebuilding such as ‘disaster recovery manager,’ ‘cleaner,’ and ‘technician.’ But there’s also demand for more service positions around the disaster, such as ‘customer service representative,’ ‘laborer,’ and ‘Americorps member.’”
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined for the week ended Sept. 16, the Labor Department said. Hurricane season will likely continue to affect jobless claims and potentially hurt job growth in September. Texas and Florida account for about 14 percent of U.S. employment.
Manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated in September due to new orders. But hiring by factories slowed, and employees worked fewer hours than compared to August.
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