Wholesale Prices in November 1946

AVERAGE primary market prices 1 rose 4.1 percent during November, reflecting the combined effect of the general decontrol directive on November 9 and the earlier decontrol of most foods. The index of commodity prices reached 139.6 percent of the 1926 average, 30.7 percent higher than in November 1945 and 86.1 percent above August 1939.

Sharpest advances occurred for nonagricultural goods, led by increases for hides and leather products and chemicals and allied products. As a group, prices of all commodities other than farm products and foods rose 4.2 percent, a larger rise than in July 1946 when controls were temporarily suspended. Agricultural commodity prices also advanced.

Farm products advanced 2.7 percent because of higher livestock prices. Quotations for hogs and steers, removed from OPA control in mid-October, rose sharply in late October and remained at the higher level, bringing November average prices 18 to 21 percent above October averages. Prices of cows, calves, and lambs also increased. Live poultry quotations were lower with increased availability of livestock. Average prices of grains and other farm products declined during the month. Corn prices dropped more than 20 percent with heavy supplies of the new crop. The continued boxcar shortage together with decontrol of cereal and bakery products brought higher quotations for other grains. There were sharp price advances for dried beans, clover seed and flaxseed, and citrus fruits. Eggs declined as meat supplies improved. Sharp advances for wool in foreign markets were followed by increases in domestic prices of foreign wools. Prices of domestic wool, which were below world levels, advanced despite large supplies, as the Commodity Credit Corporation raised its selling price to meet parity requirements.

Food prices averaged 4.7 percent higher in November with substantial advances for fruits and vegetables, particularly canned and dried, and smaller increases for meats, cereal products, and other foods. Sharpest increases among meats occurred for cured pork products which were still scarce. Beef and veal prices also were higher but prices of lamb and mutton declined from the high levels immediately following decontrol. Prices of flour and bakery products were higher, reflecting removal of OPA control in late October. There also were

1 The Bureau of Labor Statistics wholesale price data, for the most part, represent prices in primary markets. In general, the prices are those charged by manufacturers or producers or are those prevailing on commodity exchanges. The monthly index is calculated from a monthly average of 1-day-a-week prices. It should not be compared directly with the weekly wholesale prices index, which is designed as an indicator of week-to-week changes. Indexes for the last 2 months are preliminary.

sharp increases for a number of other foods, including several fats and oils in short supply, coffee and cocoa, and canned fish. Dairy products declined with lower butter and cheese quotations, but prices of fluid milk were higher in Chicago and New York in accordance with milk marketing agreements. Prices for condensed and evaporated milk also increased.

Hides and leather products increased 21.1 percent as a group. Domestic hide quotations, which had been below world prices, jumped sharply immediately following their removal from control; some grades doubled in price, but declined from these levels late in the month. These raw material cost increases were reflected in substantially higher prices for leather (up 29 percent) and in a general advance for shoes (up about 12 percent).

Textile products rose 2.1 percent during the month, generally because of higher raw material costs, which resulted in OPA ceiling adjustments for cotton goods and clothing late in October. Higher prices in foreign markets were reflected in substantial increases for burlap, raw jute, and Mexican sisal. Raw silk prices were lower in the latest Government auction and only about a fourth of the amount offered was sold because of a continuing lack of interest in high priced silk products.

In contrast to other groups, fuel and lighting materials were comparatively stable. The fractional increase was due to higher prices for a few petroleum products and higher sales realizations for gas and electricity.

First effects of removal of OPA controls in the metals and metal products group, which averaged 3.2 percent higher during the month, were evident in nonferrous metals, which were especially scarce. Antimony prices rose nearly 50 percent; copper, lead, tin, babbitt metal, 20 percent or more; and zinc, 14 percent. Metal increases also caused substantial price advances for a number of manufactured products, such as lead pipe, brass mill products, and copper wire. There were general advances in prices of motor vehicles, agricultural implements, and farm machinery to meet higher costs, and some advances for small hand tools.

Higher prices for paint and most paint materials and for southern pine and Douglas fir lumber were chiefly responsible for the 7.9-percer t advance in building materials prices between October and November. Increases for paint including lead pigments and prepared paints were due in the main to higher raw material costs, or short supplies. The increase for prepared paint was allowed by OPA in late October. Lumber mills began a general upward realignment of prices in an unsettled market, after decontrol, as prices varied widely between sellers. Increases for southern pine ranged from about 15 to 23

percent, with the largest increases in the higher grades. There also were increases for a number of other building materials, including plate glass, roofing, wallboard, brick and tile, and cement.

Sharp price advances for scarce chemicals, including fats and oils, fatty acids and glycerin, and coal tar products, raised average prices of chemicals and allied products 19.0 percent in November. Seasonal discontinuance of trade discounts for potash resulted in an increase of 4.8 percent for fertilizer materials.

Housefurnishings as a group were 2.5 percent higher in November. Rug manufacturers generally announced higher prices following decontrol. Higher raw material costs brought advances for cotton blankets, linoleum, and oilcloth. Furniture prices also increased as a result of higher production costs.

Miscellaneous commodities rose 2.4 percent in November largely owing to the sharp increases in prices of soap immediately after removal from price control. A number of soap products were more than 50 percent higher in price, and were in very short supply. Short supplies resulted in higher prices for paper and wood pulp. Cattle feed quotations declined steadily from the high levels immediately following decontrol, because of decreased demand and increased availability of corn.

TABLE 1.—Indexes of wholesale prices by groups and subgroups of commodities, November 1946, compared with previous months

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TABLE 1.-Indexes of wholesale prices by groups and subgroups of commodities, November 1946, compared with previous months-Continued

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1 Includes current motor vehicle prices. Motor vehicles.-The rate of production of motor vehicles in October 1946 exceeded the monthly average rate of civilian production in 1941, and in accordance with the announcement made in the September release the Bureau introduced current prices for motor vehicles in the October calculations. During the war, motor vehicles were not produced for general civilian sale and the Bureau carried April 1942 prices forward in each computation through September 1946.

If April 1942 prices of motor vehicles had been used after September 1946, the indexes for the groups of which motor vehicles is a component would have been:

All commodities..

Inderes (1926-100)





+33. 2


1 129.6

102. 2





1 127.1




+31. 1


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These special indexes will be published as long as the need for them continues. 'Not available.

Index Numbers by Commodity Groups, 1926 to November 1946

Index numbers of wholesale prices by commodity groups for selected years from 1926 to 1945, and by months from November 1945 to November 1946, are shown in table 2.

TABLE 2.-Index numbers of wholesale prices by groups of commodities

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The price trend for specified years and months since 1926 is shown in table 3 for the following groups of commodities: Raw materials, semimanufactured articles, manufactured products, commodities other than farm products and commodities other than farm products and foods. The list of commodities included under the classifications "Raw materials," "Semimanufactured articles," and "Manufactured products" was shown on pages 10 and 11 of Wholesale Prices, JulyDecember and Year 1943 (Bulletin No. 785).

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