In the News – Talking shop: How builders are addressing the skilled-labor shortage
The skilled-labor shortage persists in the construction industry, pushing wages up, extending project timelines and putting pressure on builder–trade relations. That’s made the topic consistent fodder for discussion throughout this year’s Design and Construction Week, currently underway in Orlando, FL.
During a three-hour seminar Wednesday morning, builders shared tips for finding and training newcomers and maintaining ties with their trades when labor is hard to find.
Labor will stay tight
Labor was joined by lots and lending as the three factors cited by National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz during a press conference as essential to the residential construction industry’s health. And they all seem to be in a holding pattern — labor, in particular.
Construction’s job openings rate was 2.7% in November, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released this week, compared to 1.5% in November 2015 and 3.3% this past July.
Economists had predicted that the labor shortage would plateau in 2016, as a slump in the energy markets was expected to route more workers into the construction industry. That didn’t happen at the level anticipated, Dietz said. Instead, the situation persists as housing demand levels continue to rise.
For John Bissett, president of JM Weston Homes in Colorado Springs, CO, the labor shortage has pushed delivery on his company’s typical single-family homes from 90 days at the height of the last building boom to 150 days currently. “We’re not being any lazier, we just can’t get people on the job site,” he told attendees at the DCW event.
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