Construction workers who found work in other industries during the Great Recession are part of the reason the housing industry is now experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, a new study has found. More than 1.4 million construction workers lost their jobs as construction projects dried up during the downturn and looked elsewhere for employment.
Residential construction firms are reporting an increasing number of shortages in all aspects of the industry – carpenters, excavators, framers, roofers, plumbers, bricklayers, HVAC, building maintenance managers and weatherization workers, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.
Half of the builders surveyed reported that labor shortages over the past six months have caused them to pay higher wages or subcontractor bids to secure projects and, consequently, to raise home prices.
Nearly half of the builders surveyed experienced delays in completing projects on time, 15 percent had to turn down some projects, and 9 percent lost or cancelled sales as a result of recent labor shortages.
A lack of buildable lots and increased costs for materials and labor are also contributing to the problem.
The Home Builders Institute is ramping up training efforts, in part through portable pre-apprenticeship training programs in a variety of skilled trades that can be customized to meet the workforce needs.
The worker shortages are not only slowing the housing recovery but also hurting job and economic growth, the home builders association said. Nationally, the construction of 1,000 single-family homes generates more than 3,000 jobs, approximately $145.4 million in wages, and more than $89 million in federal, state and local tax revenues.
In normal economic times, demand for new homes should be about 1.7 million annually. The home builders association is anticipating total housing starts of 970,000 this year and 1.18 million in 2014 as the market continues its gradual rebound.