Contract Work Outpaces Number Of Construction Workers Available

Aug 29, 2018, 8:15 PM | Updated: 9:33 pm

MAPLETON, Utah – As the building boom continues in Utah, especially in Utah County, a lot of contractors have struggled to have enough workers to get the job done.

A survey released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America showed that 81 percent of contractors in Utah report having a hard time filling positions. It’s a similar struggle nationwide, especially to get young workers who are willing to work construction.

The statistics were no surprise to local contractors.

“I have been in the business for 26 years now, and it is as crazy as I have ever known it,” said Dean Peterson, a general contractor who specializes in building custom homes.

One of his longtime subcontractors completely agreed.

“It’s as good or better than I have ever seen it. It is crazy busy,” said Jon Larsen. “There’s not enough workers, skilled or even willing to keep up with the demand”

Larsen specializes in home exteriors.

“It is a struggle to keep up and get everything done, and my number one issue is hiring enough guys to get it done and keeping good guys employed,” he said.

At the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the demand from employers for construction workers continues to be high, which economists said has the potential to drive up the prices for not only new housing, but also commercial projects.

“Because of the overall strength of the economy market across all industries, there is not a lot of excess labor out there,” said Jim Robson, a Senior Economist, with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “If the labor market stays tight, it could put some upward pressure on wages and that could result in a little more inflation as employers adjust their prices to be able to afford the workers that they need.”

Many contractors who remember the housing collapse 10 years ago said it’s better to be busy with projects that take much longer to get done, than have little to do.

“It is great for us. We love having all this work, but things will change, they always do and there will be a time when everything slows back down but make hay while the sun shines,” Peterson said.

Just having the work doesn’t mean there isn’t a financial burden on contractors, because they are having to pay more to keep workers or paying the workers they have overtime to keep their projects on schedule.

That can cause them to overruns costs on their bids and ultimately it keeps adding to the sticker price of a new home.

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Contract Work Outpaces Number Of Construction Workers Available