Construction industry faces shortage of workers amid expected boom in 2018

A lack of workers is causing problems for Middle Tennessee construction projects. (WSMV)

The construction industry is shaping up to have a big boom nationwide in 2018, but there is only one person replacing every five people leaving the field.

The lack of workers is causing a problem for builders in Middle Tennessee. Builders told News 4 they have had to push back their timelines on some projects because there just aren't enough people to do the job.

"There's a shortage of brick layers. There's a shortage of different tradesmen from everything, from people who do our carpet work and do our floor work," said Dave McGowan, the owner of Regent Homes. "All the people that really requires skill, there's a true shortage of those people."

It's causing projects to take longer. McGowan said the labor shortage forces him to take longer on projects in the Midstate.

"What used to take us about a 120 days on average to build a house is now taking us 180 days plus," McGowan said.

Some companies that work with builders to provide subcontractors are also having to ask for more time on some jobs.

"Yes, we do have to push back. We try to work with our folks way in advance to say, 'Hey, do you have any flexibility to get it done?'" said Mike James, the co-owner and COO of Metro Carpets.

Metro Carpets works with McGowan's company on some jobs. James said the industry is competitive to keep workers.

"If they work for us today, then they could be working at another carpet place tomorrow and come back and pick a job up for us. They are free to work anywhere," James said.

Companies are luring subcontractors with better benefits, hours and pay.

"The pay is good. We have seen increasing up to 75 percent of what we were paying four years ago and even two years ago," James said.

With that kind of opportunity, builders said they just have to find the people willing to work.

"If they are able to go to trade schools and learn that skill set, they would be able to have a job," McGowan said.

One way to build the workforce is through high school recruitment. McGowan said he visits schools as part of the nonprofit Go Build Tennessee, a program that works to get teens interested in joining the construction workforce.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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