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As we’ve mentioned in the past, scarcity of labor in the construction industry over the last several years has been an impediment for some builders, increasing costs and slowing their ability to scale up. Many skilled workers left the industry when jobs vanished after the mortgage crisis and recession. These workers have not returned in large enough numbers to meet demand. While the number of construction workers in the residential building industry has increased each year since the low point in 2011, the total number of workers—especially skilled, experienced workers—have not returned to pre-crisis levels.
“Material costs have been rising at a faster pace recently.”
Comparing July data for 2007 until 2016 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the number of all employees in residential building construction was 981,900 in July 2007 and that number declined to 586,400 in July 2011. In July 2016 the number of employees in residential construction rose to 755,300, which is still 23.1% lower than the July 2007 total.
During this same time period the supply and cost of materials has not been a barrier to construction growth. Some material costs would increase, while others would decrease but overall it had a modest impact, which helped to offset some of the increased labor cost. However, the material costs have been rising at a faster pace recently. ConstructConnect provides details and analysis on the costs, including some that have increased by double digits.
In spite of the issues with labor and materials, NAHB reports that builder confidence in their recent survey is the second highest reading since the downturn.
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