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Lower building volumes have contributed to an easing of labor shortages in residential construction, but the problem is still significant and widespread in a historic context. Results from the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) survey indicate the share of builders experiencing a shortage of labor in specific trades ranged from a low of 33% for landscape workers to a high of 65% for finished carpentry workers. Rough carpenters, brickmasons, framing workers, and plumbers are also trades with high levels of labor shortages, according to the survey.

The finished carpentry shortage was down from 72% in 2023 and an all-time high of 85% in 2021, but remains higher than it was at any time during the 2004-2006 housing boom (when it reached a temporary peak of 58% in July 2005).

The February 2024 HMI survey also collected information about shortages of subcontractors. The percentage of builders reporting a shortage of subcontractors ranged from 35% for building maintenance managers to 63% for finished carpenters.

For all 16 trades, the shortage percentages for subcontractors and labor directly employed were fairly similar. Averaged over the nine trades that NAHB has covered in a consistent way since the 1990s (carpenter-rough, carpenter-finished, electricians, excavators, framing crews, roofers, plumbers, bricklayers/masons, and painters), the share of builders reporting shortages in February 2024 was 52% for labor directly employed and 51% for subcontractors.

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