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Labor Shortages Hold Builders Back


Labor Shortages Hold Builders Back

September 8, 2021
Photo: Tomasz Zajda |

There would be significantly more homes constructed this year in Colorado if there was enough labor to do so. It’s a harsh reality felt across the country as the industry continues to struggle with labor shortages. That ongoing issue, tied in with newer supply chain disruptions, limits builders’ capabilities to meet the booming demand this year. One Colorado builder told the Colorado Sun that he’s off 150 homes this year from what could have been completed just in the Denver market. And while the construction industry has posted gains, they were small compared to general non-farm payroll jobs. 

In a past life, Susan Ohlhaber helped people as a mental health counselor. Actually, it wasn’t that long ago. It was just last year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began and she was laid off.

Ohlhaber, who lives in Morrison, is now learning the difference between a jig saw, a circular saw and a reciprocating saw. She can make plunge cuts that will hopefully get her hired by any construction company. She’s been training for a new career at the Colorado Homebuilding Academy. She said it’s a path that fits a creative streak she never pursued and fulfills her desire to help people. 

“It seemed like this was the start if you want to be working as a homebuilder or in the field of construction. I didn’t know specifically what I had in mind and I still don’t. But I’ve learned so much in this class,” Ohlhaber said. “And I know people need housing.”

The students at the four-week boot camp are also helping the home building industry tackle a pre-pandemic problem that has existed for years in Colorado: there just aren’t enough construction workers to build houses for everyone who wants or needs one. That has pushed home prices to record highs and inventory, some say, to nothing. 

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