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Construction Plagued by Labor Shortages

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February 2017

Service firms also cry for trade workers

Most of our economy has largely recovered from the devastation of the “Great Recession” that started in 2008. One notable exception is construction.

image of carpenterHome building is still at recession levels, and one reason is a lack of workers. This report from Fortune magazine notes that an estimated 30% of construction workers have gone into new fields since 2008. The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that there are approximately 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S. – a jump of 81% in the last two years. “The ratio of construction job openings to hiring, as measured by the Department of Labor, is at its highest level since 2007,” according to the Fortune article.

A recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 69% of member firms had trouble finding skilled craft workers.  Carpenters, electricians, roofers, plumbers and concrete workers are especially hard to find.

Along the same lines, the American Institute of Architects reported that members were receiving fewer bids from contractors on many projects, which they blamed on labor shortages. Contractors were not bidding because they didn’t have enough workers to do the job.

The situation is just as bad if not worse for trade service companies. I have numerous conversations with owners of plumbing, HVAC and electrical service firms, and almost all of them bring up how hard it is to find capable service technicians.

Bad though this situation might be for construction and service contractors, it spells tremendous opportunity for people who plan to pursue trade careers. Jobs are plentiful, pay is on the rise and skilled workers are in high demand. There is nothing to suggest this trend is about to change anytime soon.

So if you are thinking about a trade career, my advice is to strike while the iron is hot.

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