Even More Remodelers Now Report Labor Shortages


If I were a carpenter…

I’d have an easy time finding a remodeling business that wanted to employ me in many parts of the country, according to a recent NAHB survey.

The survey is the one used to generate NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The RMI survey for the 3rd quarter of 2014 included a set of special questions asking remodelers about availability of labor in 12 key categories (developed in consultation with Home Builders Institute, an organization established by NAHB to train workers and promote careers in the home building industry).

RMI labor availabilityAlthough shortages (either some or serious) were apparent in many categories, they were particularly acute in the three categories of carpenters.  At the extreme, 72 percent of remodelers reported a shortage of finished carpenters, and 30 percent said the shortage was serious.

In a similar survey of single-family builders conducted in June, the same three categories finished at the top, although the shortage shares were somewhat lower at that time.  For example, 58 percent reported a shortage of finished carpenters in June, and “only” 12 percent said the shortage was serious.

NAHB’s builder and remodeler surveys are national in scope, and of course there is local variation in the supply of labor.  In the 3rd quarter of 2014, not all remodelers were reporting a shortgage.  Several in fact, in the space provided for comments, explicitly wrote in that they were seeing “no shortage of labor.”

Nevertheless, at the national level, the percentages of remodelers who are seeing shortages are quite high.  The percentages were also fairly high the first time the NAHB collected the data from remodelers—in the first quarter of 2013—but they have since surged.

RMI shortages 13v14For example, the share of remodelers reporting a shortage of finished carpenters jumped from 44 percent in 2013 to 72 in 2014.  Even in a category like HVAC, where the shortages have been comparatively mild, the share more than doubled, from 12 to 25 percent.

The bottom line is that, compared either to remodelers in 2013 or builders in June of 2014, more remodelers are now seeing (often serious) shortages of labor.  For more details than can be covered in this post, click here to access the full survey report.

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