The U.S. housing market’s nascent recovery is jeopardized by a growing industry labor shortage, officials with a builders association say.
A recent survey of National Association of Home Builders members showed more than half say they have had to increase wages or bids to secure workers. And 46 percent say the shortage has caused them to delay completing projects while 15 percent said they have had to refuse some work.
"The survey of our members shows that since June of 2012, residential construction firms are reporting an increasing number of shortages in all aspects of the industry, from carpenters, excavators, framers, roofers and plumbers, to bricklayers, HVAC, building maintenance managers and weatherization workers,” said David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders. “The same holds true for subcontractors.”
The housing market’s 2008 collapse forced many skills workers to seek new careers outside of construction, said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.
“What used to be high-paying, skilled jobs vanished as builders across the nation went out of business or were forced to let workers go," Judson said.
An estimated 1.4 million housing-related jobs were lost during the downturn, association officials said.
To fix the problem, the NAHB has partnered with the Home Builders Institute to train future industry workers. The institute offers pre-apprenticeship skilled trades education programs. The institute says it places 80 percent of its graduates in building-related jobs.
"We are ramping up our efforts to train diverse populations and place them in jobs to meet the growing demand of the building sector," said HBI President and CEO John Courson.