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Shortage of Skilled Labor Hobbles Texas Construction Industry

Contractors are still unable to win back workers who left the building trade for the oilfields, even with layoffs mounting in the energy sector.



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The Associated General Contractors of America found that 86 percent of those surveyed are having trouble filling either hourly or salaried positions. For Texas builders, the rate went up to 88 percent.

Many of the state's skilled-craft workers gravitated to the oil and gas industry after 2008, when the fracking boom coincided with the housing bust.

"We did a career fair recently that targeted, I guess, oilfield workers that had been laid off," Michael Sireno, president of Mesquite-based contractor BakerTriangle, "and I actually talked to several of them. And most of them are actually holding out, waiting to see if things are going to pick back up and go back to the oilfield before they actually come back into the construction side, just because of the higher wages that are offered on the oilfield side of it."

Among craft-work positions, Texas contractors say they're finding it especially tough to hire roofers, concrete workers, and electricians. More than half of those surveyed reported problems hiring project managers and supervisors.

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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