Despite Slowdown, Houston Faces Construction Worker Shortage

A survey shows Texas, along with the rest of the country, is continuing the trend of labor shortage in construction.


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1,200 construction workers are building the Tenaris steel pipe factory in Bay City
1,200 construction workers are building the Tenaris steel pipe factory in Bay City

Seventy-four percent of Texas construction companies say they are having a hard time finding hourly craft workers, like carpenters, electricians or plumbers.

That's according to a survey released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America.

In Houston, 11 of the 14 companies that responded have that problem. That's despite construction being down here.

"Houston went from one of the fastest-growing, if not the fastest-growing construction job market to a market that's more stable at this point," Brian Turmail with AGC said.

He said last year, Houston added only 400 construction jobs. Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all added at least 1,000 during that time.

Neil Eldin, dean of the College of Technology at the University of Houston, said the shortage in skilled construction workers has long been a trend. That's why the building slowdown here in Houston hasn't considerably affected demand for more workers.

"Even if you take that demand off because of the huge deficit that we have – deficit in workers, deficit in crafts numbers that we needed – then you are still facing shortages," Eldin said.

He said the problem has been growing for the last 30 to 40 years nationwide, in part because the construction sector has had to compete with jobs in manufacturing and the growing tech sector.

The Associated General Contractors propose bringing back construction education in high schools and call for immigration reform that would increase the pool of legal workers.





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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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