Could Homebuilders' Worker Shortage Slow Rebound?

February 11, 2013

Builders are ready to resume work, but they’re up against an unexpected obstacle: They can’t find enough skilled workers to hire.

As home building rebounds, construction jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to fill. Fifty-one percent of members of the National Association of Home Builders say they are worried about the supply of labor. In 2011, that measure was only 11 percent. 

Construction job gains have been strong in recent months, accounting for 18 percent of the overall jobs created in the economy in January. But builders say the numbers would be much stronger if they could find more skilled workers to hire. 

Johnny Yates, vice president of Rampart construction in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, says that following the housing crash, many skilled workers left the field to find other jobs. 

"People had to find other work to survive," Yates told CNNMoney. Some of the workers who were immigrants returned back to their home countries and have not returned.

But with limited numbers, some builders say they are being forced to work with smaller crews, which may prolong some projects.  Also, some builders say they are unable to expand their business because of the difficulty in finding enough skilled workers to hire. 

"You can't just snap a finger and bring all those people back," says Stephen Melman, director of economic services at NAHB.

Source: “Construction Jobs Are Difficult to Fill,” CNNMoney (Feb. 1, 2013)

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