Construction Workers “Left the Business and They Didn’t Come Back”

That’s partly a function of the housing boom and bust, which helped push industry-wide employment above 7.7 million in 2006, only to watch it come crashing down by nearly 2.3 million over the next five years. While builders are used to ups and downs, the most recent bust was extreme in magnitude and duration.

“The difference this time is that a whole generation left the business and they didn’t come back,” said John Gillilan, operations manager at Bothell, Wash.-based Element Residential Inc. “So there’s a vacancy in the ranks at almost every company.”

That’s bad news for builders, who can’t grow as fast as they would like amid increasing delays and rising costs—factors that could feed through to home buyers in the form of less supply and higher prices.

For experienced trade workers, that means demand for services, steady work and signs of rising compensation.

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