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: $2.758
As expected, Hurricane Harvey caused a surge in petroleum prices this week.
Oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast account for half of U.S. refining capacity. Harvey caused a total of eight Texas refineries to shut down entirely, and more to operate at a reduced capacity.
Even with hurricane cleanup underway, diesel prices are expected to keep rising throughout September.
The Labor Department reported that jobless claims rose by 62,000 last week. Most of those came from hurricane-damaged Texas. Because the storm hit so late in August, national jobless claims weren’t affected as of September 1st.
Lumber Price Tracker
Random lengths – framing lumber: $410
Random lengths – panels/plywood: $483
Because of Harvey, demand rose for softwood lumber used by home builders and remodelers.
Hiring for construction laborers and skilled tradespeople across the Gulf Coast should also increase as cleanup continues. And now that Hurricane Irma has made landfall in the United States, construction hiring along the storm’s projected path is set to follow the same pattern.
Distribution staffing is also being affected by these storms. Hurricane Harvey shut down air and rail transport along the Texas coast, heavily disrupting freight terminals and home parcel delivery.
Hurricane Katrina caused similar disruptions in logistics. According to Noel Perry, a logistics consultant with FTR Transportation Intelligence, the cost of freight deliveries spiked nationwide when trucking resumed after that storm.
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