allows H-1B visas for tech jobs, the lack of skilled-construction workers might dissipate.
Tariffs also have increased construction costs. Higher
metal tariffs affect the cost of high-rise buildings more
than in single-family construction, but single-family
residential construction also has been impacted by
tariffs on lumber, plywood and hardwood.
Land-use regulations are another reason why nearly
a dozen years after the last big financial crisis, housing
starts are still not back to a market-sustaining level of
1.5 million. Those regulations, in some cases, are preventing housing from being built where the jobs are
The building industry may need to start additional
apprenticeship programs to train people in the
needed skills. Government policies, such as tariffs and
immigration restrictions on a federal level and land-use regulations and zoning regulation on local levels,
may need to be rethought. ■
The census data shows that as of this past September, on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, there
were an estimated 1.24 million building permits authorized. Of that total, single-family units accounted for
851,000 authorized permits and the rest involved properties of two to four units or larger. Authorized single-family housing permits as of this past September were
up 2.4 percent on an annualized basis, compared with
the same month in 2017.
Housing starts on an annualized basis as of this past
September registered at 1.2 million, according to census data. NAHB earlier this year projected a 2.7 percent
increase in total housing starts for 2018, compared to
the prior year. In general, single-family home starts are
expected to be up this year and multifamily starts
Commercial construction provides limited opportunities for mortgage originators, but it is a leading
indicator of economy health. A healthy economy generates jobs creating opportunity for homeownership.
The value of commercial-construction spending as of
thispast August was at a seasonally adjusted annualized
rate of $1.3 trillion, according to census data.
A significant problem lately has been the lack of skilled
construction workers. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported that as of August 2018 there were 298,000
construction jobs openings.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported in second
quarter 2018 that nine out of every 10 contractors report a skilled-labor shortage. This may be a
generational problem. Baby boomers are retiring and
younger people may be disinclined to seek such jobs.
Vocational training has all but disappeared from high
schools as young folks are taught that college is the
key to success.
Federal government policy regarding immigration
also is a factor in the lack of construction workers.
NAHB estimates that one in four construction workers
are immigrants. According to NAHB, immigrants comprise close to 42 percent of the construction workforce
in California and more than 41 percent in Texas. In
New York and Nevada, 37 percent of the construction
labor force is foreign-born. In Florida, 35 percent of
construction-industry workers come from abroad.
In 2016, 52. 8 percent of immigrant construction
workers were from Mexico. If the U.S. allowed and
encouraged skilled construction workers to obtain
H-1B visas in the same manner as it encourages and
<< Construction continued from Page 120 “A significant problem lately has been
the lack of skilled construction workers. …
Nine out of every 10 contractors report a
skilled labor shortage.”