The National Association of Home Builders recently released the results of its Remodeling Market Index survey for the third quarter of 2018, which clearly illustrated that labor shortages continue to be a significant and widespread impediment to the industry.
Nearly 85% of remodelers surveyed by the NAHB reported shortages of workers available to perform finished or rough carpentry, and 48% said they would classify the shortage of finished carpenters as serious. Although these percentages actually represent a slight decline from the previous year, they remain elevated overall, indicating that the problem is still far from solved.
According to Eye On Housing, the RMI survey collected information on 16 specific occupations that were either specifically recommended by Home Builders Institute or that NAHB determined to be particularly significant based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In Q3 2018, more than half of surveyed remodelers reported shortages of labor in 12 of those 16 occupations. As was also the case in 2017, shortages were most widespread in the aforementioned finished and rough carpentry categories, though significant shortages were also reported for a variety of other occupations.
Over 80% of remodelers reported shortages of framing crews, which 38% classified as serious. Additionally, 71% of remodelers reported shortages of bricklayers and masons, 70% reported shortages of concrete workers and 65% reported shortages of drywall installers.
According to the RMI survey, the three most common effects of the shortages are increased pressure to pay higher wages, forcing remodelers to charge customers higher prices and making it more challenging to complete projects on time.
NAHB has asked remodelers about labor shortages since 2013, and for each of the trades tracked consistently over the last five years, the shortages peaked in 2017 and then declined slightly in 2018. Though a step in the right direction, some of these declines were quite modest, ranging from 8 percentage points for roofers to just a single percentage point for electricians.
And although the situation saw a slight improvement last year, labor shortages in the remodeling industry remain much more widespread than in earlier years, and markedly higher in 2018 than in 2016 for nearly each of the trades covered. The increases ranged from just 4 percentage points higher for finished carpenters to a spike of 18 percentage points for bricklayers and masons.