Developing cement shortage in the US

Developing cement shortage in the US
Published: 12 July 2005

According to the Portland Cement Association’s latest survey of cement suppliers in May, 23 states are currently experiencing cement shortages. The shortage, which has been ongoing since the spring of 2004, is due to both domestic and international factors.

While domestic cement production increased from 93Mt to 95Mt in 2004, domestic consumption increased from 114Mt to 121Mt, according to data from the United States Geological Survey. The increasing consumption is most directly due to the housing boom that has accompanied the upswing in the US economy.

Ross Pepe, president of the Westchester Construction Industry Council, said that the price of cement has increased from US$80 to US$100 a ton over the past 12 months, and prices are only guaranteed for 90 days at this point. Pepe estimated that contracting jobs involving concrete could cost anywhere from 20 per cent to 25 per cent more now than they did last year.

Though the higher materials prices contribute to rising costs for commercial construction, the residential construction market is affected even more. Several residential contractors and builders said they couldn’t afford to reflect the full weight of increased cement prices in their prices without losing customers.

Other builders said they are passing along the increased costs. Michael Bartolone, chief operating officer for Ginsburg Development Corp. in Hawthorne, N.Y., said the foundation for an upper-end, single-family house was running US$15,000 to US$20,000, and rose as much as US$3,000 last summer after the cement shortage hit.