Commerce Secretary Pledges to Make Lumber a Priority

Material Costs

NAHB’s grassroots efforts urging the Biden administration and Congress to address the growing problem of rising lumber and material prices along with supply shortages is showing results.

Responding to a request by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) to make rising lumber prices and production issues a priority during a May 6 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on President Biden’s 2022 budget request, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo responded, “I promise you I will.”

View NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke”s video response at the end of the blog post.

During the hearing, Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) noted that lumber prices have been quite volatile in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and cited NAHB data on how this has impacted home prices.

“Over the last year, lumber prices have been skyrocketing with oriented strand board jumping over 250% since March of 2020,” said Cline. “A sheet of OSB was around $8 in March of 2020 while today it is over $60 a sheet and climbing. The National Association of Home Builders says overall lumber prices have tripled and the increase translates into a nearly $36,000 increase in the price of the average single-family home.”

Cline went on to ask Raimondo if she could discuss what resources may be available or have been dedicated by the Commerce Department to look into the causes of skyrocketing lumber prices, what impact this is having on the economy and whether the secretary could commit to working with industry stakeholders and with Congress to identify the challenges and potential solutions to the crisis.

“I agree with you that the home building industry and the housing sector is a vital portion of our economy and they are struggling as you say,” Raimondo said in response to Cline’s question. “A lot of supply chains have been disrupted during the pandemic. It isn’t just lumber. Recently ITA [the International Trade Administration] has been doing a good deal of convening of stakeholders to try to learn exactly why this is happening.

“And what I can commit to you is to follow up with you to work collaboratively with you. I actually would love your guidance on what you think could be done. So right now we are trying to get under the covers of what's going on, what are the root causes, and then what can we do at ITA to try to solve the problem because I understand the problem and it affects the whole industry.”

Later in the hearing, Aderholt said he wanted to associate himself with the comments that Kline made regarding timber and lumber.

“I am hearing that constantly as I am down in the state of Alabama in the district,” said Aderholt. “I understand there is plenty of lumber that’s being delivered but the prices are continuing to go up and I think there is an issue with production. If you [Raimondo] could make this a priority it is really putting a lot of folks in a very difficult position for home building and various construction projects. If you could ask someone in your office to make that a priority I think that's very important.”

“I promise you I will,” said Raimondo.

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