Booming Texas economy causing shortage of construction workers

The Texas economy is so good that it is blamed for creating a bad situation.

The construction industry is leading many areas in a shortage of workers because so many people have jobs.

The unemployment rate is at record lows and the economy is zooming along at a greater clip than the nation. Yet, many companies are concerned because they can't find people to hire.

A new Lake Highlands home is being fitted with carpet, but Mark Dann with Highlands Classic Homes is having a hard time trying to find people to fit construction job openings.

“There have been labor issues, labor swings and stuff like that,” he said. “This one feels a little different.”

Skilled laborers are so scarce. In some cases, builders are pushing the pay scale to get workers.

“I had a builder friend that walked into a house one day and thought the workers were at lunch because they left their tools,” Dann said. “Come to find out, someone else had come by and offered them a lot more money. They just got up and walked out. Forgot their tools.”

Oddly, it's because the Texas economy is booming.

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank Senior Business Economist Jesus Canas says wages are growing here faster than the rest of the nation.

“Employment is at its lowest level ever. We have a great demand for workers,” he said. “Unfortunately, our business contacts are saying they're having difficulty finding qualified workers for the jobs they need to fill.”

Commercial construction is having the same shortage. Oil and gas also can't hire enough. With not enough truckers, many delivery times go up. Supplies become backlogged.

“The residential construction industry has a big help wanted sign on it right now,” said Phil Crone with the Greater Dallas Builders Association. “We're missing anywhere between 25,000 and 35,000 workers.”

The shortage could ultimately hurt a big part of what makes North Texas attractive.

“That’s the irony of it all is that all these jobs are coming here and the home is where these jobs sleep at night,” Crone said. “But we don’t have enough in our industry to meet the demand, which is gonna cause housing to be more expensive and is a symptom of a lot of the things that we've benefited from here in the region.”

The construction industry hit super hard in part because of commercial and residential vying for the same trades to do work at the same time. They are looking to vocational and trade schools to bring about the next generation of plumbers, framers and electricians.

The economy might see some slowing, but it is expected to end the year double the growth of the nation.

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