New HBI Report Shows Labor Shortage Weakening Housing Supply, Affordability

Filed in Workforce Development by on November 4, 2021 3 Comments

A lack of skilled construction labor is a key limiting factor for improving housing inventory and affordability, according to the Home Builders Institute’s (HBI’s) Fall 2021 Construction Labor Market Report released today.

The report cautions that the required number of construction workers to keep up with demand is approximately 740,000 new workers per year for the next three years, based on a new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by NAHB. The estimate is determined by approximating the required net growth in employment due to construction expansion plus the workers required to replace individuals who leave the sector permanently.

“The construction industry needs more than 61,000 new hires every month if we are to keep up with
both industry growth and the loss of workers either through retirement or simply leaving the sector for good,” said HBI president and CEO Ed Brady. “From 2022 through 2024, this total represents a need for an additional 2.2 million new hires for construction.”

The report, based on research of NAHB’s Economics Group, provides an overview of the state of the
nation’s construction labor market. Other key findings include:

  • The number of open construction sector jobs currently averages between 300,000 to 400,000 each month.
  • Half of the payroll workers in construction earn more than $50,460 annually and the top 25% make at least $71,000. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $49,150 while the top 25% make at least $67,410.
  • Construction employment currently totals 7.42 million. Residential construction represents 3.1 million of this total amount.
  • Self-employment in construction is currently 22% of the labor force, down from 26% in 2010.
  • The share of immigrants in construction trades is 30%.
  • Women make up a slightly growing share of construction employment, up to 10.9% in 2020 from 10.3% in 2019.
  • The median age of construction workers is 41. However, due to aging trends, the share of construction workers aged 25 to 54 decreased from 72.2% in 2015 to 69.0% in 2019.

“The construction worker shortage has reached crisis level,” said Brady. “The situation will become more challenging in the coming year when other industries rebound and offer competitive wages and benefits to prospective employees.”

Brady outlined six key steps that home builders can take to increase the number of skilled construction trade workers in the United States:

  1. Reach out to secondary school students, and those who influence their decisions, to change their perception of careers in construction.
  2. Increase worker pay while balancing the need to keep homeownership affordable.
  3. Attract more women into careers in construction.
  4. Train and place more minority and lower-income youth and adults for job opportunities.
  5. Increase trade skills education for veterans and transitioning military.
  6. Work for bipartisan approaches to sensible immigration policies.

HBI is the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of skilled trades training in residential construction.
For a copy of the Fall 2021 HBI Construction Labor Market Report, and more information, visit

Access resources to help recruit the next generation of skilled workers at

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  1. Frank Morse says:

    Labor has become the most critical factor along with affordable land in this era. In Louisiana where multiple hurricanes have hit many of the states parishes and cities chronic skilled labor shortages in drywall, roofing, trim carpentry, framing and plumbing are driving costs of remodeling or new construction beyond the limits of affordability. Even meeting insurance adjuster estimated costs that are fair has become impossible. It is time for the entire country to get behind programs designed to place qualified applicants into productive jobs in construction to help fill the gaps that have been created over the last 15-20 years. HBI and other successful organizations need to be a part of a central group that works with city governments to build a sustainable system and workforce.

  2. Annette Bullard says:

    You have a worker shortage, but OSHA is moving forward with a vax mandate,. Even though numbers have declined, you have a 98% recovery. If you get vax, you can still catch it, carry it, spread it, and now you have to have boosters. So at what point do you input common sense to understand the vax is not the only answer. We do not need to LOOSE more workers over the mandate from OSHA>

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