Construction Labor Shortage Holds Back Possible Home Building Boom

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A recent survey found that 200,000 construction industry jobs across the country are unfilled

February 02, 2017

Photo: Scott Lewis/Creative Commons

Nearly 200,000 construction industry jobs are unfilled in the U.S., an 81 percent increase from two years ago.

Curbed reports that the lack of available labor is hurting the home building industry. Facing pressing buyer demand, projects are being pushed back by months and subcontractors are taking on more work than they can handle. Many builders have been forced into luxury projects to recover the cost of delays.

The lack of vocational programs has been cited as the key cause of the shortage. Students are encouraged to attend college rather than a trade school. As a result, the construction labor force is not only small in number, but many workers are older than 40 or 50, and closer to retirement.

“The shortage is worse than you’ve heard,” says George C. Hess III, CEO of Vantage Homes Corp., which operates in the Colorado Springs area. His company, which builds 120 to 150 homes a year on average, could have done 20 more units last year if there was more manpower available. Their utility contractors they rely on just didn’t have enough skilled workers.

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