According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) – down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).
As builders report that cost and availability of skilled labor is their top challenge, smart hiring and retention practices can help reduce that burden. In a recent blog post titled “Staffing Up: How Contractors Can Cope With the Labor Shortage,” LP shared a list of seven ways to attract younger job candidates to the construction industry. Couple that information with “Staffing Up: Tips to Retain Your Employees” for ways to keep skilled employees on staff.
The Impact of Second/Vacation Homes on Residential Construction Labor
California, our most populous state, has the most residential construction workers. According to a study by the NAHB, nearly 600,000 Californians work in residential construction, representing over 3 percent of the state’s labor force. Florida ranks second, mainly due to its large stock of vacation and seasonal homes.
Some Mountain states likewise benefit from a large number of vacation homes. For example, Idaho (with a population of just 1.75 million) nevertheless has a lot of residential construction workers – 4.6 percent of the state’s labor force. Mississippi, which is nearly twice as populous as Idaho but has far fewer vacation homes, has one of the nation’s lowest number of residential construction workers. The worker shortage is most severe in northern New Mexico and rural portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
“It’s hard to find qualified construction workers in our part of Louisiana – like those who know how to install engineered wood siding,” says Chad Futch, owner of KEH Builders in Pineville, Louisiana and a LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding user. “It’s also very difficult to retain qualified people because they come and go so fast.”
As seasoned workers retire and get replaced by less experienced ones, builders are increasingly choosing building products like engineered wood siding that are designed for easier installation. And there are now wall assemblies that are much lighter and easier to install than traditional assemblies using shaft wall liner. LP supports its users in building efficiency through various educational avenues, including onsite trainings and virtual guides. For example, the LP® FlameBlock® videos illustrate how to install the fire-rated sheathing in a variety of code-approved assemblies for fire resistance.