A recent Wall Street Journal article, Worker Shortage Hammers Builders, noted that construction industry employers are facing a tight labor market.
U.S. builders shed more than 2 million jobs during and after the housing bust. Now they say they can’t find enough carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other craftsmen for a growing pipeline of work.
That is certainly consistent with everything that I’ve heard and read about construction companies in the Midwest. Unfortunately, it seems as though the problem is only going to get worse.
The WSJ article made two interesting observations. First, the shortage of labor is forcing construction companies to think differently about how they are doing the work. For example, an electrical contractor now pre-manufactures substantial portions of the electrical system on the shop floor and then the electrician in the field puts the puzzle together on site.
The article also noted that wages in commercial construction were up 3.3% versus 2.2% for all private sector employees. And, in non-union shops, craft workers are expected to see their biggest pay raise since 2008.
Summer is a busy time for construction. Let’s hope we can find enough qualified employees to keep the project running on time and on budget.