Producers of construction equipment pushed through a string of price increases totaling 1.1% during the first half of 2003, the largest increases tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in several years. The higher equipment prices held during the summer months, encouraging producers to nudge prices up another 0.1% in September. The latest increase pushed the BLS producer price index for construction equipment 1.5% above September 2002’s level.

The largest year-to-year price hikes tracked by BLS are 4% for wheel-type loaders and 2.2% for power cranes and excavators. Paving equipment prices are 1.5% above a year ago. BLS also tracked a 0.8% increase in tire prices during the third quarter, which left tire prices 3.1% higher than a year ago. Equipment users may see their biggest cost break in diesel fuel, which has fallen 1.3% below last year’s level, after posting annual increases as high as 86% last March.