An unprecedented 90% of builders surveyed for the NAHB/Well Fargo Housing Market Index reported in July a shortage of subcontractors to do rough carpentry work, while 89% were short on framing crews and 84% didn't have enough finish carpenters, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports.

NAHB has been collecting info on shortages since the 1990s, and never before have nine out of 10 respondents said they had some shortage or a serious lack of a particular type of worker. Problems were nearly as dear for builders who employed rough carpenters fulltime: 83% were short of rough carpenters, 81% needed framing crews, and 78% wanted finish carpenters.

What's going on? NAHB suggests this:

A possible explanation for the relatively severe shortage of subcontractors is that workers who were laid off and started their own trade contracting businesses during the housing downturn have returned to work for larger companies. That would add to the pool of workers available for builders to employ directly, while subtracting from the number of owners running their own trade contracting businesses. A previous post has shown that the number of one-person trade contactors has actually declined slightly, even while the number of homes under construction was increasing by 131%.

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