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Demand for construction means the industry needs workers

Housing construction is up across the nation

Posted on 10/21/13 8:41:00 AM

It's a flash from the past.

In Bolingbrook, Ill., a southwest suburb of Chicago, construction of single-family homes continues to rise. But as of now, there just aren't enough qualified workers to meet the construction demand.

"Now that we're up and selling homes, which is great, we don't have the trades to build them," Ray Blankenship of K. Hovnanian homes told Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM.

K. Hovnanian plans to start one or two homes every week, instead of two or three, until new workers enter the trades.

"Last year, it started picking up a little bit and this year has been just like it was five or six years ago," Tony Mazzacano, a carpenter from the Chicagoland area, told WBBM.

"I think the guys who left are pretty much comfortable where they are right now, readjusted and everything," Mazzacano added, referring to workers who got out of the construction business during the Great Recession. "I think it's hard for them to start over again."

It looks like there could continue to be demand for workers for some time, as most signs are starting to point to a healthy housing recovery. WBBM reported that permits for new construction hit a five-year high last month.

"The cards are in play for a decent and fairly strong recovery in 2014 and particularly in 2015," said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). "From the standpoint of GDP growth, housing has been a plus, growing at two, three and four times the rate of the rest of the economy in recent quarters."

Construction outlook bright
In a recent forecast from NAHB, housing starts are expected to be up 18 percent from 2012, with 924,000 starts compared to 783,000 starts in 2012.

Multifamily properties and single-family homes are showing strong gains, with multifamily property starts expected to be up 20 percent from last year by the end of 2013. The projection of single-family home starts wasn't far behind, with a 17 percent increase expected by the end of 2013.

The NAHB report credited these results to a greater number of families and households being able to save and cut debt this year than in recent times.

"They've corrected a lot of excesses and feel more comfortable about moving forward," Crowe said.

There is also a diminishing amount of recent college graduates and young professionals moving back home with their parents, which is fueling new household formation.