New Nightmare for Home Builders: Not Enough Skilled Workers

Housing starts are finally coming off their lows of barely a half a million in 2009, and are now surging quickly up in to a rate of around 800,000 annualized, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. While this is still about half the pace of a normal housing market, it still means builders are looking for workers, especially skilled workers.

“About two weeks ago we started getting calls, like 7 or 8 a day, and we’ve been asked to bring students to work sites,” says Linda Thomas, an employment liaison for Job Corps. “They said look just bring them with their resumes, we’ve got work, we’re pushing more contracts now. Business is doing well, building is doing extremely well in the area.”

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This is a drastic change from just six months ago, when Thomas was still finding herself the beggar, not the chooser with home builders. Her main concern is that all this new momentum will come to a grinding halt should the nation’s economy go over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

“A contractor, once he sets up a job, then he has to get money for that job because he has to buy the materials and so forth, so if a bank is a little scary or his lender is a little scary, a private lender, he may not have the funds to start the project, therefore we won’t have the jobs.”

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