09/17/2019

Hidden cost of housing: How a shortage of construction workers is making our crisis worse

As the Bay Area scrambles to find housing for its growing population, developers are running into another kind of shortage: There aren’t enough construction workers to build the homes the region needs.

Builders throughout the area say they are struggling to recruit skilled laborers. Some bring in employees from Southern California or even Seattle, putting them up in hotels. Others hire workers from the Central Valley who spend hours driving to job sites in the wee hours of the morning only to arrive exhausted, forced to squeeze in quick naps before the workday starts.

The challenge of finding workers only exacerbates the Bay Area’s housing shortage. Despite a dramatic increase in permits for residential construction since 2009, construction jobs have increased at less than one tenth the pace of permits. As a result, wages and the overall cost of building are increasing, forcing some developers to delay projects or, in some cases, not build at all.

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