In a year that should have homebuilders across the country elated with a strong market has instead found them frustrated. Consumer confidence and the demand for new homes are high, while the supply of available properties and both unemployment and interest rates are low. Generally, that’s the perfect formula for success in the construction market. Unfortunately, something else is drastically low as well — the supply of skilled labor.
Several factors have combined to create a labor market that has U.S. homebuilders clamoring for qualified workers. That low unemployment rate — the lowest in 16 years, in fact — is one. But add to that the nation-wide shortage of trade schools designed to turn out skilled craftsmen, fewer immigrant workers than in past decades, and a surge in construction across every sector, and you have a perfect storm that is hitting American homebuilders hard in 2017.
While the low unemployment rate has been a boon for most industries, it’s having the opposite effect on the construction business. According to a joint report issued by the lobbying group U.S. Chamber of Commerce and construction materials manufacturer USG Corporation, two-thirds of contractors say they need to hire more workers in the next six months, but nearly all of them had a tough time finding skilled labor to fill their starts during the second quarter of this year. In fact, there were 203,000 open construction jobs in April of this year, compared to only about 25,000 in April 2009. And nearly half of the employers surveyed predict that will worsen as 2017 draws to a close. According to the report, concrete workers are currently in the shortest supply, while millworkers, masons, electricians and plumbers are also in the top five.
And while this lack of qualified tradesmen is causing homebuilders to suffer, it’s homebuyers who end up paying the price in the end — literally. With a shortage of qualified help, homes are taking longer to build and ultimately end up being more expensive, in part because contractors have to pay higher wages to entice the tradesmen who are available to work on their projects.
“It has caused a spike in wages because frankly, they are going out and recruiting other people’s workers to fulfill their needs by offering higher prices,” said John Courson, president and CEO of the Home Builders Institute.
Thankfully, there is an organization that helps homebuilders mitigate this skilled labor crisis. Founded in 2004 by a group of custom and independent builders in Northern Virginia to achieve pricing and service equivalent to that of large-scale production competitors, CBUSA is comprised of hundreds of premier builders in cities all across the country, and supported by top vendors, trades and manufacturers at both the local and national levels.
By saving drastically on supplies and receiving rebates that are worth your time, we help create higher profits and more financial flexibility for our builders to weather this resource storm. Our builder network is made up of successful leaders who find solutions for issues, like labor, that affect our industry.
Find out how CBUSA can help your firm lower costs in key areas of materials spending, which help you to offset the increases you are seeing on labor at cbusa.us.