Young People Don’t Want Construction Jobs. That’s a Problem for the Housing Market.
The Construction business can be difficult and have unanticipated problems. It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a drought in the number of young people seeking work in the construction industry. In the not too distant past construction jobs were a good opportunity for young people who may not have gone to college to earn great money. The work can be physically demanding, but on the job training with an experienced crew can accelerate a young person’s earning potential. On the job training and learning a skill is not taught in college. Yet, today’s young job seekers are not as interested in construction work as much as they have been ten years ago. This trend is affecting the housing market.
The construction industry have always relied on a significant amount of laborers who will work for low wages. The undocumented immigrant community has been willing to work for lower wages, helping contractors and developers maintain the healthy margins that keep them in business. But studies are showing the construction business has seen a decline in the number of illegal construction workers as well. There is a shortage of laborers in American construction companies, most notably in the Northeast and California.
During the 2008 economic downturn the construction industry took a significant hit. Skilled craftsmen and laborers were forced to seek employment outside of the construction industry. Immigrant labor often returned to their home country because the lack of work. The industry has been improving, but has yet to regain what it lost in 2008.
So, what can be attributed to explain the lack of interest by young people to be involved in an industry that has historically been positive for them? Many parents teach their children that the best career path starts with a college degree, not working on a skill or trade. It is difficult to raise a family and purchase a home with a job in construction.
A housing shortage arises because there are fewer homes available on the market. Home prices are increasing as a result. And, there is a decline in new homes being built.
Additionally, the cost of labor and materials has increased. Many construction companies do not want to take the time and bear the expense of training unskilled workers. The pool of skilled laborers is competitive, thus forcing prices higher and potential profit for the builders lower.
The lack of interest in construction jobs is unfortunate. Learning a skilled trade and how to run a business is invaluable. Indeed, the work is physically demanding and can be inconsistent in terms of steady income. Young job seekers have benefited from the technology boom of computers, the internet, and cell phones, but they have missed the advantages of learning how to build something with their hands.