Construction equipment manufacturers have recaptured most of last spring's price increase, which initially failed to hold. Producers were not able to maintain last March's average 1.3% price increase as market conditions forced them to roll back prices 1.1% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' producer price index. Equipment makers attempted another 1.3% price hike in June and most of it appears to be sticking this time, with producers being forced to give back just 0.1% in July. Click here to view chart

The BLS price index for construction equipment now is 1.7% above July 2001's level. This compares to a 0.1% year-to-year increase recorded at the beginning of the year. However, virtually all this price movement was generated from a single category--power cranes and excavators. In July, the BLS index for this group of equipment was up 9% for the year. Annual price escalation for other types of equipment has been more modest. Prices for both wheel and crawler tractors are up between 1.5 and 1.9% for the year, while prices for highway paving equipment show no gain from 2001's level. Prices for tractor shovel loaders are down 0.3% for the year.