Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Homebuilders struggle to find workers

I found this interesting story from CNN Money:
Sales of new homes are on a tear, but builders can't find enough workers to keep up with the demand. After the housing bust, many workers left the building trade in droves, said Michael Fink, CEO of Leewood Real Estate Group in Trenton, N.J. "A lot of our workers are immigrants and they went back to their home countries," he said. "Our subcontractors can't get people; they can't start on time; they can't get things done on time." The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported in March that 46% of its members say they have fallen behind schedule on finishing projects, 15% turned down jobs and 9% lost or canceled sales because they can't find enough workers. That could have some big ramifications for the broader housing market. Housing starts fell sharply in April to 853,000 and experts project residential construction will grow by about 25% annually, according to the NAHB. At that pace, it could take more than four years to get back to early 2006 building levels, when housing starts peaked at 2.3 million, according to Census Bureau data.
"A lot of our workers are immigrants and they went back to their home countries." If there ever was a big reason why the housing industry can't find workers, then that is the reason. For almost three decades, shifted their hiring from highly-trained, and highly-paid, framers, plumbers, electricians, and professional construction workers, for low-wage immigrants--perhaps even bringing in illegal immigrants to perform the construction work, and pay them under-the-table. It was a race to the wage-slave labor bottom, as the housing speculation bubble grew. After the housing bubble crashed, there were no construction jobs for the immigrant workers, so they went back to their home countries. Now that we're starting to see an upturn in housing construction, those same construction companies can't find enough workers to fill the jobs that the construction companies are only willing to pay $8 per hour for. You know, if you can't find workers to fill such low-paying jobs (as you were hiring low-paying immigrant workers), then maybe you need to raise your pay to attract applicants for those jobs?


Outllook said...

Of course workers are the main thing that affect any home builder's productivity. And as you mentioned most of your workers are immigrants & they just moved to their home countries so it may a great loss of your trained & skilled workers.
Home Builder Poconos

Eric A Hopp said...

It is a serious loss. When home builders were bringing in the immigrants to replace American workers, who were trained as master craftsman, those same American workers either retired or left the home building industry altogether. After the housing industry went bust, the home building immigrants then left for their own home countries. Now that the housing industry is slowly starting its crawl back to recovery, there is no one left who can build homes--and certainly no one left who is willing to take the minimum wage jobs that the home builders are only willing to pay.

Rather ironic that the home builders have found themselves in a Catch-22 situation.