US building materials still in short supply

US building materials still in short supply
Published: 14 August 2006

Although home builders in many parts of the USA are beginning to  experience a decline in buyer demand, the shortage of some key building products is continuing. Chief among the products in tight supply is cement. Although residential-construction starts may be lower now than during the boom of the past five years, increased demand from public and commercial building is taking more and more cement.

“U.S. cement plants are operating at maximum levels, as they did throughout 2004 and 2005,’’ said Ed Sullivan, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association. “Persistent low cement inventories increase the vulnerability to demand surges or unexpected supply disruptions.’’ Through the first quarter of 2006, cement imports increased nearly 40  per cent over record 2005 levels, Sullivan said.