Labor shortages in the homebuilding industry could constrain new housing growth during the recovery, according to Fitch Ratings. A deficit in workers, particularly skilled trades, combined with a lack of available finished lots and continued tight mortgage qualification standards could dampen growth momentum, but won’t likely lead to disastrous national numbers for housing, we believe.
While large public builders have indicated that they do have access to labor, in some cases a shortage of workers is lengthening the construction period. Fitch believes large builders remain much more able to source their needs than smaller competitors when scarcities develop.
Over eight million construction workers were employed during the housing peak. However, many of those workers departed during the extended housing recession. By May 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated about 5.8 million construction workers were employed.
In addition, shortages of framers and wallboard installers are evident in certain individual markets. According to the BLS, the number of carpenters fell from 969,670 in 2007 to 471,350 in 2012, a 51% decline.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor