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Construction industry struggles with worker shortage

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Although the construction industry shed 2.2 million workers since the recession began, contractors are facing a worker shortage as the home building market strengthens and companies seek to hire workers, according to USA Today.

"It has been a shock for us," says Milton Chicas, who heads recruiting for commercial building company Wayne Bros., Kannapolis, N.C. "There are so many folks out of work right now, we thought we were going to have a large amount of individuals coming through the door."

The shortage currently is affecting a handful of states, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Texas. However, it is expected to spread across the U.S. during the next few years.

During the recession, laid-off construction workers left the field, retired or moved to other states to find work. Many acquired training to become truck drivers or factory workers. Additionally, Baby Boomers are retiring, and parents and school officials are steering high school graduates toward college education and computer training instead of the construction industry. All these factors have widened the gap between construction labor demand and supply in some regions.

All construction spending in September was up 14 percent from the market bottom in February 2011; yet construction payrolls virtually are unchanged. Some companies are being cautious about hiring, but others simply can't find workers. The construction industry's jobless rate has dropped from 17.3 percent to 11.4 percent during the past two years as 320,000 construction workers stopped working or looking for work. Contractors are trying to cope with the added workload and worker shortage by paying employees overtime.

The Construction Users Roundtable, a trade group, says by 2017, there could be a shortage of 2 million commercial construction workers.


12/3/2012

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