by Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association
There is not a week that goes by when I do not receive calls from contractors near and far looking for employees.
Not a week goes by when I do not receive calls from homeowners indicating they have executed a contract for a home project, but they are seeking another contractor who can get them on “the schedule” sooner rather than later.
Construction in Yavapai County is ranked the fifth largest industry and the third top-growing industry.
Our industry is not alone in seeking employees. Every business, including banks, newspapers, radio stations, health-care facilities, police and fire departments, cities and towns, grocery stores — and the list goes on — is in desperate need of good, hard-working employees.
All businesses, and the industry that I love most, are struggling. Construction is short of labor, so projects can be scheduled up to six months out.
I am writing this edition’s column to the homeowner. Please understand the labor shortage has affected our residential and commercial construction and probably will for some time. Just ask any of our construction companies from plumbers to drywall installers to electricians to landscapers to tile and flooring, they all say they cannot find the manpower to handle the surge of homes, remodeling projects landscaping installations, weed removal, paver installations, deck repairs, painting, window replacements, etc.
Believe me, Yavapai County is not special. This is a problem felt across the U.S.
Our industry partners are seeing more delays as they wait for crews to get to jobs. We do not have enough workers to get the jobs done.
I have mentioned in previous articles that the current labor shortage is likely to worsen because many of our current skilled workers in the trades are in their 50s, and they are getting ready to retire and go fishing.
Arizona is seeing declines of 20 percent or more in the workforce, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
What this shortage does is raise builder costs and slows down construction, which is difficult for homeowners to understand. According to a local fence manufacturer and landscaper, “It’s getting to the point where you’re really limited in what you can deliver.”
With fewer workers, contractors are becoming wary of signing new work contracts, especially with the workforce issues creating an uncertainly for start and completion dates.
With the promise of new construction jobs only continuing to grow, homeowners, please understand with the labor shortage it is tough for our local contractors to keep up with all the demands on them. So, if I can say one thing, it is please be patient. I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Our local jurisdictions are on track to record a high number of permits due to the accelerated permit activity and, of course, delays are occurring in issuing permits, and homeowners and builders are experiencing delays in starting projects.
As you can see, construction delays are plaguing everyone in the industry section. So again, please be patient.
Because construction practically came to a halt during and after the height of the downturn, the lack of qualified workers wasn’t noticeable at first and now that we’re back to building at top capacity, project delays are a serious issue in the construction business. Not only do they directly impact current work for the construction companies, they indirectly affect future projects as everything gets pushed. Material suppliers are overbooked and can’t manufacture and deliver product fast enough.
Our contractors are scrambling to catch up without sacrificing quality. Please be patient.
It is important to understand the construction workforce issues and understand our industry is working as hard as it can to take care of your project and to deliver a good quality project.
Construction workers have become an increasingly rare and precious commodity. The shortage of workers is dramatically slowing down projects, so again, I repeat: Homeowners please be patient.
Contractors would love to swoop in and save the day, but they can’t. They simply don’t have the manpower.
I want to close by saying being patient is often easier said than done. Getting through the day can be hard enough knowing you are desperately waiting for that landscaping project that now has been delayed again. Then it is finally scheduled, but the contracted workers do not show up or called in sick, or the material delivery did not arrive. Guess what? You receive a call saying, “I am sorry we cannot start your job today.”
Believe me, these contractors do not want to call you and tell you your project is delayed. Being patient is hard, but remember being patient makes people feel good and paves the way for good relationships.