Even as eight of 11 key construction input prices rose in July, the overall trend was up just 0.3 percent – and only 3 percent higher than at the same point last year, according to analysis today from trade group Associated Builders and Contractors.

Substantial price reductions for crude petroleum and natural gas held down the effect of more modest increases in other components.

Even worker compensation has not risen rapidly, despite indications from construction firms, trucking enterprises, hotel operators and manufacturers of large-scale shortfalls in human capital. America presently has 6.2 million job openings and 7 million unemployed, which means that there is nearly one job for every person looking for one.

“Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of U.S. economic performance in recent years has been the general lack of inflation,” says ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The lack of inflation helps explain many things, including low interest rates, rising levels of consumer indebtedness, rising home prices, high multiples on corporate earnings and elevated commercial real estate values.

“In other words,” Basu says, “the reasonably strong performance of the U.S. economy and the phenomenal performance of financial markets is largely traceable to surprisingly low inflation.”