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NAHB Members Report Record Labor Shortages

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NAHB Members Report Record Labor Shortages

2021 is a year of record highs and lows for the housing industry and labor shortages are no exception


November 16, 2021
Construction workers lifting equipment onsite
Image: Stock.adobe.com

More NAHB members are reporting labor shortages than ever before as a result of job layoffs and unfilled positions, according to the NAHB’s Eye on Housing. In the third quarter of 2021, over 55 percent of remodelers reported labor shortages within 16 trades listed in an NAHB questionnaire. For some trades, over 90 percent of remodelers reported shortages in extreme cases.

Subcontractor shortages are even more widespread than labor shortages reported by general contractors, with an average 81% shortage compared to 65% in 2019. With historically high percentages of labor shortages nationwide, housing affordability continues to drop to its lowest level in nearly a decade.

Let’s turn first to the October 2021 survey for the NAHB/Well Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), where more than 55 percent percent of single-family builders reported a shortage (either serious or some) of each of the 16 trades listed in the questionnaire.  At the high end, more than 80 percent reported a shortage of labor for each of the three categories of carpenters (rough, finished and framing crews).  Similarly, in the survey for the third-quarter 2021 NAHB/Royal Building Products Remodeling Market Index  (RMI), over 55 percent of remodelers reported a shortage of each of the same 16 trades. 

The same surveys indicate that subcontractor shortages are even more widespread than shortages of labor employed directly by the general contractors.  At least 90 percent of single-family builders responding to the October HMI survey reported a shortage of subcontractors in each of the three categories of carpenters, and 80 to 85 percent reported a shortage of subcontractors in six other trades.  Again, the shortages tended to be somewhat more widespread among remodelers. 

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