Editor’s note: The recent Rally Day in Austin contained the same message to Texas legislators as what is occurring in much of the country. See the Rally Day story to get more information on the approach the El Paso Association of Builders is asking for from the Texas delegation.
NAHB, Washington, DC
-Growing labor shortages in allfacets of the residentialconstruction sector are impedingthe housing and economicrecovery, according to a newsurvey conducted by the NationalAssociation of Home Builders(NAHB).“The survey of our membersshows that since June of 2012,residential construction firms arereporting an increasing number ofshortages in all aspects of theindustry – from carpenters,excavators, framers, roofers andplumbers, to bricklayers, HVAC,building maintenance managersand weatherization workers. Thesame holds true forsubcontractors,” said NAHB ChiefEconomist David Crowe.The survey also found that morethan half of the builders reportedthat labor shortages over the pastsix months have caused them topay higher wages or subcontractorbids to secure projects, andconsequently, to raise homeprices. Moreover, 46 percent ofthe builders surveyed experienceddelays in completing projects ontime, 15 percent had to turn downsome projects and 9 percent lostor cancelled sales as a result ofrecent labor shortages.Part of the reason for the laborshortages can be attributed to thefact that many skilled residentialconstruction workers were forcedto seek employment elsewhereduring the recession and are nolonger currently available.“What used to be high-paying,skilled jobs vanished as buildersacross the nation went out ofbusiness or were forced to letworkers go,” said NAHB ChairmanRick Judson, a home builder fromCharlotte, N.C.The loss of tens of thousands ofhousing jobs mushroomed tomore than 1.4 million during thepeak of the downturn. During thisperiod, many trades retrainedconstruction workers and they arenot returning to the residentialconstruction sector.Meanwhile, a lack of buildablelots and increased costs formaterials and labor are alsocontributing to the problem, as theinfrastructure that supports homebuilding moves to re-establishitself following the worst housingdownturn since the GreatDepression, Crowe said.To help meet the growingdemand for skilled labor within thehousing sector, the Home BuildersInstitute (HBI), in partnership withNAHB, provides career trainingand job placement in the buildingindustry. HBI offers an array ofportable pre-apprenticeshiptraining programs in a variety ofskilled trades that can becustomized to meet the workforceneeds of communities across thenation. HBI regularly placesapproximately 80 percent of itsstudent graduates in jobs in thebuilding sector.“We are ramping up our effortsto train diverse populations andplace them in jobs to meet thegrowing demand of the buildingsector,” said HBI President andCEO John Courson.“Even in a period of relativelyhigh unemployment, we still needto complement our job trainingefforts by bringing in foreignworkers to meet the needs ofhome builders and home buyers,”added Judson.The worker shortages are notonly slowing the housing recovery,but also hurting job and economicgrowth.Nationally, the construction of1,000 single-family homesgenerates more than 3,000 jobs,approximately $145.4 million inwages, and more than $89 millionin federal, state and local taxrevenues. That doesn’t even countthe increase in annual propertytaxes that local municipalities relyon to fund schools, police andfirefighters.As the economy mends, pent-updemand for housing will continueto grow, as roughly 2 millionhousehold formations weredelayed as a result of the GreatRecession. In normal economictimes, demand for new homesshould be about 1.7 millionannually.NAHB is anticipating totalhousing starts of 970,000 this yearand 1.18 million in 2014 as themarket continues its gradualrebound.“We need to look holistically atthe home building infrastructure tomeet growing and future demand,”said Judson. “To avoid a run-up inprices in hot markets due to laborissues, we need to complementour current training programs witha market-based visa system thatwould allow more immigrants tolegally enter the constructionworkforce each year when there isa dearth of workers to fill the jobsthat are needed.”
Growing Labor ShortagesImpede Housing andEconomic Recovery