Hardly a week goes by when I don’t come across and article like this one reporting on the labor shortage playing out nationwide. In this case, a survey reports that 70% of remodeling contractors are saying they can’t find enough help, especially skilled workers. Many of them have to turn down jobs because of it.
Here’s another recent article along the same lines from home builders. This article reports that in recent years the residential construction industry has lost an estimated 1.5 million workers, many of whom have gone on to jobs in other fields and will never return to construction. Home builders and other construction firms are finding help harder to come by, and pay is rising as a result. The destruction caused last year by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria has made a bad situation much worse with respect to labor shortages.
It was an open secret that when construction was booming prior to the financial crash of a decade ago, much of the labor was performed by illegal immigrants. (Okay, call them “undocumented workers” if you wish to be politically correct.) For the construction industry, even that source of manpower is not so readily available, because illegal crossings from Mexico are way down. That owes in some measure to more effective border controls, but it’s also due to the fact that Mexico’s economy has grown significantly in the last decade, which removes the incentive for many people to make an illegal and dangerous border crossing.
Someone’s pain is usually somebody else’s gain. That is surely the case for people looking at a career in the trades. The labor shortages show no sign of easing and trade labor wages are on the rise. In places like Houston, where a lot of rebuilding activity is taking place after Hurricane Harvey, I’ve heard of wages going up as much a s 30-50% for certain trades. Some contractors are even paying recruitment bonuses and relocation expenses for people coming from other parts of the country.
There has never been a better time to explore the trades.