As weakness in the labor market hinders the delivery of new homes, the remodeling industry is also feeling the labor shortage pinch. The lack of remodeling workers hurts production, especially of large additions and alterations. It also makes it difficult to wrap up projects, as shown by the increased backlog of remodeling jobs in the most recent Remodeling Market Index.
In a recent survey of NAHB Remodelers members, 80 percent of remodelers reported a shortage of finished carpenters. The September unemployment rate was unchanged only because the labor force shrank faster than the number of employed people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With this alarming trend, remodelers should evaluate how a smaller pool of candidates will affect training and production as well as how they can find a larger hiring pool. New NAHB research shows that while foreign-born workers represent a substantial component of the overall U.S. construction labor force, accounting for almost 23 percent, their share (28 percent) is even higher in construction trades like carpentry, masonry and painting.
Hispanic workers are projected to account for 74 percent of growth in the labor force from 2010-2020, up 20 percent from the previous decade. The remodeling industry is especially poised to take advantage of this trend, with 42 percent of construction laborers currently of Hispanic descent.
With the labor shortage looming, remodelers who know where to recruit Latino workers will be able to take advantage of the dramatic growth in the labor force by this group. Remodelers who know how to use cultural relevance to recruit Latino workers will be able to create opportunities for workers to gain skills and responsibilities that can be used to strengthen their remodeling company.
For more insight into recruiting and retaining Latino workers in the remodeling industry, join NAHB Remodelers for a webinar with business consultant Ricardo González on Nov. 18.
Robert Criner, GMR, GMB, CAPS, a remodeler from Newport News, Va., is the 2015 chair of NAHB Remodelers. NAHB Remodelers is the remodeling arm of the National Association of Home Builders, representing the more than 55,000 members who are involved in the remodeling industry. Learn more at nahb.org/whynahbr.
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