Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Business

Trigaux: Where did all the construction workers go? Florida builders can't find them

With construction cranes and new home building becoming ever more familiar sights in Florida, it's getting tougher to find skilled workers to keep up with rising demand.

Small wonder. Florida added 4,800 construction jobs in July — more than any other state.

In the past 12 months, Florida's gain of 26,500 construction jobs was second only to larger California, according to a recent analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data by the Associated General Contractors of America. The findings show an uneven national rebound in construction. While the Florida economy is a clear beneficiary, other states saw sharp declines in construction jobs, led by New York's 4,500 job loss in July and Ohio's 13,800 decline in the past year.

Florida's building boomlet, though, is driving up wages, which in turn adds to the final cost of commercial buildings and new homes. Average hourly earnings for construction labor were up 2.6 percent annually in July, compared with 2.1 percent for all U.S. workers. Those wage bumps have not stemmed the increase in spot shortages of carpenters and, especially in the South, plumbers and electricians.

"I would go so far as to call it an epidemic," National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard told USA Today this week. The shortages have helped drive up new home prices an average 5.7 percent over the past 12 months.

In Florida, the numbers reflect the state's ongoing struggle to rebuild a construction workforce that lost more than half of its jobs during the recession as skilled workers fled to states like North Dakota and Texas to find employment.

"We are badly in need of skilled laborers to fill the gaps now that construction jobs are booming again, specifically plumbers, electricians and drywall finishers," Doreen DiPolito, owner and president of Clearwater's D-Mar General Contracting, told trade magazine Builder this summer. Her firm, in addition to handling home building, also works on projects with McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts and Quiznos, among other companies.

"The shortage is horrible. It is hard to find people to work," she said. "Definitely a different story than a few years ago."

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

Comments
What does $155,000 buy in a Tampa Bay house these days?

What does $155,000 buy in a Tampa Bay house these days?

If you're willing to sacrifice space for price, you might be able to find a nicely remodeled house for $155,000 in Tampa Bay. But forget about finding one in the most sought-after neighborhoods.
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Oh, how we love Tampa International Airport

Oh, how we love Tampa International Airport

TIA didn't rank in a recent survey of best airports. Its fans came out swinging.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Largo may back off sign deadline

Largo may back off sign deadline

Business owners have had 11 years to adhere to the new sign code. Now the City Commission wants to give them more time.
Published: 11/21/18
TV’s ‘Billion-Dollar Man’ started by opening up a can of sales success

TV’s ‘Billion-Dollar Man’ started by opening up a can of sales success

Bob Circosta grew into an HSN pioneer because of a ‘crazy’ request to sell a simple appliance.
Updated: 4 hours ago
Here's why the holiday shopping season is so important for Florida's small retailers

Here's why the holiday shopping season is so important for Florida's small retailers

Beyond Black Friday, the holiday season can make or break some independent retailers.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay ranks No. 9 for package theft around holidays

Tampa Bay ranks No. 9 for package theft around holidays

So-called "porch pirates" steal packages from 26 million Americans during the holidays, a new ranking said.
Updated: 5 hours ago
After 32 years in St. Petersburg, Texas Cattle Company steak house has closed

After 32 years in St. Petersburg, Texas Cattle Company steak house has closed

Sales at Texas Cattle Company on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg had been declining for a 10 years as dozens of new restaurants sprang up in the city.
Updated: 5 hours ago
How to shop local for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

How to shop local for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

It’s retail’s big weekend, from Black Friday through Giving Tuesday. But instead of dealing with crowds and lines at the malls and big box stores, support local and small businesses.
Published: 11/20/18
Martha Stewart's first ride on Uber was 'a mess inside and out'

Martha Stewart's first ride on Uber was 'a mess inside and out'

Martha Stewart took to Instagram to document her miserable ride, including a picture that showed debris on the floor and two water bottles.
Published: 11/20/18
Love that new car smell? Ford just figured out how to get rid of it

Love that new car smell? Ford just figured out how to get rid of it

The company recently filed a patent for technology that would allow autonomous vehicles to bake the smell out of themselves.
Published: 11/20/18