Labor, Materials Issues Cause Project Delays

The same labor availability issues that have plagued forest products manufacturers since the COVID pandemic began are also plaguing builders as the economy seeks to rebound. According to a survey of more than 2,000 construction companies, both hourly and salaried employees are currently very hard to find—a sentiment shared by many employers.

In an August survey, the trade group Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) surveyed more than 2,100 construction firms around the country and found 91% were having trouble filling construction trade craft positions, while almost as many (87%) said salaried employees were hard to find as well.

The situation is ongoing for builders who have already been beset by materials price increases and availability in addition to labor issues since the COVID pandemic began. According to the survey, 88% of firms are experiencing project delays.

Three-quarters of builders cite longer lead times-material shortages for project delays, 61% cite labor shortages for and 57% said delivery delays compounded project problems.

Labor and materials issues surrounding the construction industry have broader implications since resulting delays act as a drag on the U.S. housing market and plans for large federal infrastructure projects.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for July, the number of unfilled construction positions is going down slowly, but 321,000 construction industry jobs remain unfilled.

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