The weekly changes in the price 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: $2.797
Petroleum prices changed little this week.
As of October 20, the number of U.S. oil drilling rigs fell by 7, to a total of 736. This decrease contributed to pushing prices higher in the last four weeks.
But now that the end of hurricane season is that much closer, analysts are predicting that drilling rig activity will increase.
Instability in the Middle Eastern market, specifically Iraq, continued this week. Oil exports from the Kurdistan region continued at a reduced level. Flows from the region were at 255,000 barrels per day, down from a more typical level of 600,000.
Lumber Price Tracker
Random lengths – framing lumber: $438
Random lengths – panels/plywood: $535
Sales of lumber products are starting to slow. Trends of individual lumber products such as Southern Pine, dry western species, and studs had been mixed. But taken as a whole, the price of lumber products dropped $2 versus last week.
The structural panels market was also mixed. In regions where mills have orders to fill through November, prices remained steady even though sales dwindled somewhat.
Job openings are at near-record highs.
The Labor Department’s last monthly jobs report, released on October 6, revealed that the unemployment rate hit a 16-year low. This has left employers struggling to fill open jobs.
Construction hiring remains healthy due to damages caused by hurricanes during August and September. And automakers are reporting higher sales as vehicle owners replace cars destroyed by flooding in Texas and Florida.
Sources: EIA.gov, RandomLengths.com, CNBC
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