Harvey’s Aftermath Affecting Construction Industry

Sept. 7, 2017

The Texas construction industry is already feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey. It is expected the already well-known labor shortage will get worse during the storm’s aftermath.

“Before Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the surrounding area in recent days, shortages of skilled labor were so bad in Texas that builders estimated it added as much as a month-and-half [sic] in additional time to the construction of a new house,” said CBS News.

In a recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders, respondents reported trade shortage lows not seen since 2000 in several occupations. Material prices and construction starts will also be affected by the hurricane.

“Based on our experience with Katrina and Sandy, we know that rebuilding requires several years to gear up, so we expect Harvey to start to influence construction starts in the region during 2018-19 time frame after the immediate damage is dealt with,” said Dodge Data & Analytics Chief Economist Robert Murray in an article with Engineering News-Record.

One way to combat the labor shortages across the country is with government-funded initiatives. Capital Area Workforce Development (CAWD) in Raleigh, NC, received a $1 million grant from the Department of Labor to help with a construction-related education program. CAWD works with those of ages 16 to 24 in the Raleigh area who have high poverty and youth unemployment rates. It is expected the training will open doors in carpentry and construction.

The construction industry is predicted to grow by 2,000 jobs in the next five years, but there are firms that can’t fill the current openings, said CAWD Executive Director Pat Sturdivant in an article with the News & Observer. “We’re definitely hearing from the construction industry that they’re having a great difficulty filling jobs. We see this as one way to help them with that,” Sturdivant added.

– Michael Miller, editorial associate

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