As the demand surges for new homes and home improvements, so does the demand for those who can build and renovate. Construction and maintenance companies have long battled with the severe lack of skilled labor, but the past year has only worsened conditions. In an attempt to draw in more employees, some company owners are hiking wages, offering bonuses, and including health insurance. One solar panel subcontractor business owner now works on the site instead of the office to ensure the work gets done. He’s offering a 40% wage increase, now $25 an hour, a $250 bonus for those staying longer than 30 days, and healthcare coverage, reports Business Insider.
Many older, more experienced workers took early retirements during the pandemic and the number of younger applicants has ebbed, Messer said. This trend has been years in the making as the number of young people attending trade school or seeking jobs in a trade has dwindled, according to NPR.
As competition heats up for construction workers, some companies are poaching talent from others, said Ross Smith, a salesman at RL Rider Remodeling, a residential remodeling company in Lansing, Michigan.
"There's a lot of competition for skilled carpenters," he said. "You need to watch your butt because other guys are coming for him."
Smith's company has raised wages for its lowest paid employees by around $4 hourly to $17 since the beginning of the pandemic and began offering employees life and health insurance, as well as 401(k)s.