The country’s construction industry may be swamped with work, with spending on new projects peaking at $1 trillion in November. But all the demand, and dollars, in the world can’t seem to fix the industry’s persistent labor shortages.
The lack of enough skilled workers and a narrow talent pipeline has added extra hurdles, time, and costs to many current projects, according to builders, hindering the current boom time in the industry.
“The number one issue is the cost and availability of labor,” says Randy Strauss, owner of Strauss Construction in Amherst, Ohio, roughly 40 miles east of Cleveland.
The issue is a nationwide one. Contractors in areas such as Houston, which were battered by Hurricane Harvey last year, have struggled to staff up, and the National Association of Home Builders recently found that 82 percent of its members believe the cost and availability of labor are their biggest issues. In 2011, only 13 percent named labor costs as their biggest worry.