Sacramento homebuilders are trying to deal with a severe shortage of construction workers by training high school students in summer internships. They want the teens and their parents to consider the possibility that a construction career might be a good alternative to college, though that can require some convincing. “There’s a negative stereotype about dirty jobs,” said Rick Larkey, executive director of the North State Building Industry Foundation. The group is leading the effort to recruit 5,000 new workers over five years in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties. A big part of that is the outreach to high-school students through internships and after-school programs.
Homebuilding was down across Southern California in the first three months of 2017, but nowhere more than San Diego County, said a Real Estate Research Council report released Monday.
Residential building permits were down by 10 percent in the seven-county region compared to the same time last year and 37 percent in San Diego County.
A recent count found a dramatic 104% increase in “tents and hand-built structures” located downtown, for a total of 418, compared to 2016. Driving through East Village, a gentrifying neighborhood on the edge of downtown, it’s tough to find a street that doesn’t have a tarp or tent – or dozens. People with neither tent nor tarp fashion makeshift shelters out of shopping carts, storage bins and blankets.
Labor costs, too, are on the rise. The construction industry unemployment rate, at 6.3% last month, has fallen back to its levels during the housing boom. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that the quits rate—the share of people leaving construction jobs voluntarily and a sign that they think they can get new jobs easily—stood at 2.5% in March, the highest since early 2008.
Developers are now adding homes, relative to population growth, at a far higher pace than in recent years. But it’s still below what experts believe would be enough to keep up with California’s growing population, which topped 39.5 million last year.