Lumber prices have increased nearly fourfold from a low after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 to a recent peak in March 2021. A primary factor was an unexpected pickup in housing construction, as the pace of new single-family “starts” nearly doubled between April and December, along with increased renovation of older homes and properties. A housing slowdown in 2019 left the industry unprepared, and shutdown constraints complicated efforts to respond.
Industry groups and legislators have pressed first the Trump and then the Biden administrations for relief, but it isn't clear what the government can do. An industry letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimundo asks the department to “examine the lumber supply chain, identify the causes for high prices and supply constraints, and seek immediate remedies that will increase production.”