Labor Shortage Challenges Contractors
2015 was a busy year in the Construction industry, according to an October 2015 Wall Street Journal Article: “U.S. residential conconstruction spending in August climbed above $36 billion, the highest monthly total since October 2007, according to government data. Yet there were 676,500 fewer workers in residential construction nationwide to handle the work this time around.”
Here on the South Shore we have also seen those national trends, combined with the historic winter we had last year and extra work because of water damage, general remodeling was stronger this year than since the start of the recession. For most of the year the work force was able to keep up.
Starting in early fall we started to see some significant changes to that though. Since early fall we have seen a dramatic shift in the ability to schedule specialty and mechanical contractors. As a General Contractor our primary job is to supply carpentry staff and manage specialty and mechanical contractors as the quantity of projects has increased at once and the labor pool has tightened lead times have lengthened and the ability to reduce down time between phases of projects also become a challenge. Projects are taking longer, it’s harder to get inspectors to job sites and we are even starting to see extended lead times on materials and the availability in some cases to get deliveries once supplies come into a supplier.
The same Wall Street Journal Article states the follow as some of the reasons for the labor issues: “Builders, contractors and economists point to a few reasons for the labor shortage. Wages, particularly in residential construction, are still too low to attract enough qualified workers to the physical and sometimes dangerous work of building houses. Tightened immigration policies, meanwhile, are deterring foreign labor from returning to the U.S. And efforts to train and recruit young trade workers atrophied in past years as many school districts focused less on certain vocational training.”
“The labor shortage has led to costly delays. Seventy-four builders surveyed in September by industry tracker John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc. have reported slowdowns as long as two months as they wait for carpenters, drywall workers, foundation pourers and other specialists.” WSJ. This is definitely the same challenge we are having here on the South Shore.
As we moved forward into a new year, Almar will continue to work on building our team of skilled carpenters, and expanding out base of support staff to try and combat this labor shortage and work with the best of the best. We always say all we can be is honest with people, and do our best to communicate what we know. That isn’t always easy, we don’t always have the answers as quickly as people would like in this “24-hour” instant society but we are always trying to improve and keep the systems moving forward.