Cement shortages affect construction in 23 states

Cement shortages are now widespread in the lower half of the United States, threatening to slow construction in approximately 23 states, according to a June 9 report from the Portland Cement Association.

According to PCA’s findings, states that have not yet reported a shortage, mostly those in the northern region of the country, will likely experience a shortage by the end of the summer. The association expects a price increase of as much as 15 to 20 percent for cement over the next few months since demand is increasing and domestic cement mills are currently operating at or near capacity.

James D. Waltze, president of the Associated General Contractors, said higher prices for cement could delay construction projects and add to the costs of construction.

“Contractors need to be able to get their projects completed on time and on budget,” Waltze said.

According to PCA, the cement shortage is the result of several factors, including record sales of new single-family homes. The high price of cement isn’t likely to be lessened by foreign imports because a large number of freight ships are currently tied up taking materials to China.

To help solve the problem, the Associated General Contractors called on Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans on June 23 to temporarily lift tariffs imposed on Mexican cement products.

“Cement demand has increased more than 8 percent in the last six months as the U.S. economy has improved,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of AGC. “Removing duties on Mexican cement, which have been set at $57 per ton, would provide contractors with an additional source of cement.”

To read more articles about the cement shortage, or to access AGC’s letter to Evans, click on the links to the right.