FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Lynn Osborne has been remodeling two homes. They are different styles, in different states, with different contractors. But there has been one constant: delays due to a shortage of skilled labor.
The two-year remodel of her primary home in Fort Collins was to update and upgrade the ‘90s house, and it included a small extension. It was completed last year, except for the landscaping, which is still under way.
That general contractor relied heavily on sub-contractors, she said, and sometimes they wouldn’t show, or would arrive days late, or did shoddy work and were fired.
Her remodel of an old family beach retreat in New England took a Sears kit home down to the studs. The completion date was June 2018, but it’s still not done because the contractor, who has been doing most of the work himself, is stretched and unattentive.
Current estimates indicate there are about 300,000 unfilled jobs in the construction industry, and the industry is expected to need an additional 747,000 workers by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An August survey of nearly 375 members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association found that almost two-thirds of the respondents said they had difficulties hiring skilled workers in the previous year, and nearly 70% felt the problem had gotten worse since 2016.
Compounding the problem is the graying of the remaining workforce, with the median age for a construction worker at 42.5 years, according to January figures from the Labor Bureau. It’s estimated that for every five workers retiring from the industry, only one is entering it, said Silvia Lattoz, Governance and Global Relations Senior Manager at NKBA.
The seeds of the current labor shortage were planted during the Great Recession, when a lack of construction jobs prompted many workers to leave the industry.