Skilled construction worker shortage hits U.S. real estate

January 13, 2017 Sanjana Saluja

U.S. skylines and suburbs are packed with construction cranes, but a serious shortage of skilled trade workers is creating a challenge for contractors and owners alike. A recent survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 69 percent of contractors have difficulty finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots. JLL Real Views explores how the skilled labor shortage will impact the U.S. construction industry.

Commercial construction and development is at near-record levels across the United States, thanks to a strengthened economy. As of the third quarter of 2016, the volume of jobs, projects and other key industry indicators are all near cyclical highs. But a labor shortage could be threatening the seemingly-endless stream of commercial construction starts. 

A dwindling skilled labor pool has driven down unemployment among U.S. construction workers to a 10-year low in July 2016. The average hourly wage for construction workers hit $29.98 per hour, more than 3.5 percent higher than in July 2015 and outpaced the national average annual wage growth rate of 2.4 percent. The resulting fierce competition for talent has left contractors feeling the heat, with some projects facing costly delays.

Many of the construction workers who brought real estate to life during the 2005 to 2008 boom left the industry permanently during the global financial crisis,” says Todd Burns, President of Project and Development Services at JLL. “As a result, the construction labor pool today is 23 percent smaller than it was in 2007, and is showing signs of leveling out in terms of organic growth.”

Find out more on the shortage of skilled labor and how it is spurring the contractors to adopt innovative strategies here.

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