Lumber Prices Holding Steady Amidst Labor Shortages

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:39 AM EDT
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Earlier this year lumber costs reached record highs, and although prices have started to decrease, we may not be out of the woods yet.

“Generally supply and demand are fairly well balanced out. But there are some kinks in the supply lines that are still very challenging.”

David Gordon knows those challenges all too well. As President and Owner of Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, his company has had to endure soaring manufacturing prices in recent months, due in part to uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

“And then the COVID thing, everyone had to shut their mills down, or a lot of them did, because they had to quarantine.”

Gordon stated that during the quarantine, he observed a trend of people moving from more densely populated areas to more rural areas, raising demand of lumber through new construction of homes. However, because many mills had ceased operations, there was not enough supply of lumber to meet the growing demand.

“So the companies went from being very slow to all of a sudden, having this very strong demand and none of us were prepared because we didn’t have the inventories…that’s what really drove the prices, just astronomically high.”

Gordon said that although the supply and demand of lumber has started to balance out, the next obstacle to overcome will be severe labor shortages within the lumber industry.

“Everybody that I’m aware of in the whole northeast has been raising wages, and raising wages, and even at 2 and 3 dollars more than we were paying a year or two ago, a lot of the labor is just not out there. So, if we can’t conquer that piece, then there’s going to be some shortages that are unpredictable at this point.”

Gordon said he is optimistic that the labor shortages will end soon, and that the supply of lumber will continue to meet consumer demand.

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