Fact check: COVID-19 to blame for spike in lumber prices, not Biden
The claim: Biden to blame for spike in lumber prices
Lumber prices have soared across the United States in recent months, a trend some on social media are blaming on the new Democratic occupant of the White House.
An April 8 Facebook post, which includes a photo of a Home Depot price tag, is captioned, “America held hostage, day 79 of living in leftist-imposed hell!”
The post also includes a list of rising prices for 3/4-inch plywood since March 2020, claiming that there has been a “252% price increase on one of the most used pieces of common lumber for construction.”
But the post itself – like others making similar claims – unintentionally points out the absurdity of this line of thinking. Going back to March 2020 creates a time span mostly falling under the Donald Trump presidency.
The lumber price spike is all about the COVID-19 pandemic, not Democratic President Joe Biden.
USA TODAY has reached out to the posters.
COVID-19 fueled spike in lumber prices
Lumber prices have indeed spiked, but it’s not related to the Biden administration.
Prices rose by more than 250% in the last year, according to Business Insider. The National Association of Homebuilders said the increases added more than $24,000 to the price of the average single-family home.
Of course, most of that increase came while Trump was still in office.
Like other products, lumber prices surged amid the pandemic as mills were forced to close or slow production. Pandemic home improvement projects, mill production cuts and this year’s building season have caused an increased demand for lumber while supply remains low, leading some experts to predict prices will stay high.
The association attributes the escalating lumber prices to “insufficient domestic production.”
It’s similar to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, though on a smaller scale. Then lumber prices went up by 30% from August 2017 through January 2018, the association said.
According to its website, the NAHB “reached out extensively to the Trump Administration, members of Congress and to lumber mills calling for prompt action to address supply shortages that were harming small businesses, home builders and ultimately, the overall economy,” and will continue to do so under the Biden administration.
The Nasdaq composite shows a relatively consistent rise in the pricing of lumber over the last six months, with spikes in December of last year, and February and April of this year.
Christina Cornell, a spokesperson for Home Depot, said the company cannot confirm the authenticity of the image in the Facebook posts but said the company has seen prices increase for all lumber products based on various factors.
Our ruling: False
We rate the claim that Biden is to blame for rising lumber prices FALSE because it is not supported by our research. It’s true the price of lumber has increased by more than 252%, but that’s connected to the pandemic, not Biden. Lumber prices also steadily rose throughout 2020 as mills were forced to close or scale down operations, when Trump was still in office.
Our fact-check sources:
- National Association of Home Builders, Jan. 30, 2018, “Softwood Lumber Prices Climb to Record Highs”
- Poynter, Aug. 21, “Lumber shortages and prices are soaring amid tariffs, mill closures and a whole lot of DIY projects”
- CNBC, Feb. 10, “Thinking of a new wooden deck for spring? It may bust your budget”
- NPR, March 30, “Lumber Prices Are Staying Sky High — Even If The Pandemic Ends Soon”
- Markets Insider, April 13, “Lumber prices hit a record high after soaring more than 250% in the past year”
- National Association of Home Builders, “Solving the Lumber Crisis”
- National Association of Home Builders, March 12, letter to U.S. Department of Commerce
- National Association of Home Builders, Aug. 21, 2020 “Average New Home Price Now $16,000 Higher Due to Lumber”
- NASDAQ, “Lumber (LBS)”
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