One of the home building company executives who spoke at our just-concluded HIVE conference mentioned he'd recently undergone a medical procedure--a preventative check that happens to all of us when we hit the age of 50--and took note of the fact that two "burly male nurses" took care of him.
The wasn't a comment on the fact that the two nurses were male. Male nurses are not a rarity.
Rather, it came out in conversation with his medical caretakers that both of them formerly had been construction workers--that is, until the Great Recession, when they'd lost their livelihoods on subdivision job sites, and taken up nursing studies. Looks like they're not inclined to return to their old jobs, even though they could probably make a pretty good go of work back on the trade crews.
Although constricted labor supply has not disrupted new home community development as pervasively this year as last, Colorado and parts of Florida are still prone to shortages that put construction schedules and budgets at risk.
These challenges are likely to get worse as volume picks up as expected.
Here's a piece from Bloomberg staffer Conor Sen that explores, "The New Face of Immigration Is Changing the Housing Market," noting that the "brawn drain" from the loss of immigrant workers from skilled labor crews in construction has surfaced as a double-whammy paint point.
One, is that the immigrant workers--more educated these days than in times past--are heading for other careers, such as nursing. Two is that those "other careers" often pay well enough that these workers are forming households with enough wherewithal to compete for scarce resale and new home inventory--against non-immigrant would-be home buyers.
This "up-skilling" of the immigrant labor force is contributing to the country's labor and housing woes.
In the absence of immigrant workforces who may never return to job sites at a level anywhere near their presence a decade ago, home builders can't imagine where fresh, young, skilled workers may come from to do the hard, sometimes brutal construction work.
Asked whether Western European heritage kids would step into those jobs if they were offered more money, this executive's answer was this:
"It's not a matter of more money. They just can't see doing a job that means working up on a roof when it's 120-degrees out."
That's a problem.