Washington, D.C.—Growing labor shortages in all facets of the residential construction sector are impeding the housing and economic recovery, according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The survey also found that more than half of the builders reported that labor shortages over the past six months have caused them to pay higher wages or subcontractor bids to secure projects, and consequently, to raise home prices. Moreover, 46 percent of the builders surveyed experienced delays in completing projects on time, 15 percent had to turn down some projects and 9 percent lost or cancelled sales as a result of recent labor shortages.
Part of the reason for the labor shortages can be attributed to the fact that many skilled residential construction workers were forced to seek employment elsewhere during the recession and are no longer currently available.
The loss of tens of thousands of housing jobs mushroomed to more than 1.4 million during the peak of the downturn. During this period, many trades retrained construction workers and they are not returning to the residential construction sector.
Meanwhile, a lack of buildable lots and increased costs for materials and labor are also contributing to the problem, as the infrastructure that supports home building moves to re-establish itself following the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression.
To help meet the growing demand for skilled labor within the housing sector, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), in partnership with NAHB, provides career training and job placement in the building industry. HBI offers an array of portable pre-apprenticeship training programs in a variety of skilled trades that can be customized to meet the workforce needs of communities across the nation. HBI regularly places approximately 80 percent of its student graduates in jobs in the building sector.
The worker shortages are not only slowing the housing recovery, but also hurting job and economic growth.
Nationally, the construction of 1,000 single-family homes generates more than 3,000 jobs, approximately $145.4 million in wages, and more than $89 million in federal, state and local tax revenues. That doesn’t even count the increase in annual property taxes that local municipalities rely on to fund schools, police and firefighters.
As the economy mends, pent-up demand for housing will continue to grow, as roughly 2 million household formations were delayed as a result of the Great Recession. In normal economic times, demand for new homes should be about 1.7 million annually.
NAHB is anticipating total housing starts of 970,000 this year and 1.18 million in 2014 as the market continues its gradual rebound.