More Remodelers Reporting Labor Shortages

Filed in Economics, Remodeling by on November 14, 2014 0 Comments

If I were a carpenter, I would have an easy time finding a remodeling business that wanted to employ me in many parts of the country, according to a recent NAHB survey.

The survey is the one used to generate NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The RMI survey for the third quarter of 2014 included a set of special questions asking remodelers about availability of labor in 12 key categories (developed in consultation with HBI, an organization established by NAHB to train workers and promote careers in the home building industry).

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Although shortages (either some or serious) were apparent in many groups, they were particularly acute in the three categories of carpenters.  At the extreme, 72% of remodelers reported a shortage of finish carpenters, and 30% said the shortage was serious.

In a similar survey of single-family builders conducted in June, the same three categories finished at the top, although the shortage shares were somewhat lower at that time.  For example, 58% reported a shortage of finish carpenters in June, and 12% said the shortage was serious.

NAHB’s builder and remodeler surveys are national in scope, and of course there is local variation in the supply of labor.  Not all remodelers were reporting a shortage in the third quarter.  In the space provided for comments, several, in fact, explicitly wrote in that they were seeing “no shortage of labor.”

Nevertheless, at the national level, the percentages of remodelers who are seeing shortages are quite high.  The percentages were also fairly high the first time NAHB collected the data from remodelers—in the first quarter of 2013—but they have since surged.

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For example, the share of remodelers reporting a shortage of finish carpenters jumped from 44% in 2013 to 72% in 2014.  Even in a category like HVAC, where the shortages have been comparatively mild, the share more than doubled, rising from 12% to 25%.

The bottom line: Compared either to remodelers in 2013 or builders in June of 2014, more remodelers are now seeing (often serious) shortages of labor.  Access the full survey for more details.

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