Responding to Market Needs: Modern Solutions for Labor Shortage Issues

There are approximately 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S. — 81% more than the last two years.*

In July of 2016, home builders across the United States really started feeling the heat. It was then that sales of newly-constructed homes reached a nine-year high. And suddenly, eight years after the housing market went cold, these home builders could not find enough workers to keep up with the demand of a hot market. As a result, they’ve turned down projects, and in some cases have even been sued or fined because they don’t have enough people to get ongoing projects completed.

Residential construction continues to lag behind demand as home builders struggle to attract workers to their businesses. Many prospective workers are worried about a volatile market that may go from hot to cold very quickly and unexpectedly. They are not comfortable with either entering or re-entering such a market. In addition, the large absence of young people entering the workforce means it will be extremely difficult to replace aging laborers. From these and other factors, growth in this sector is crippled, and home builders across the country are looking for solutions.

While the industry scrambles to catch up with the demand of the market, innovative building product manufacturers have developed products and systems that are making construction easier and less-labor intensive than ever before.

Home builders who cannot add more workers should be aware of products and systems that require fewer workers to install. One such system is ExpressShelf by ClosetMaid. ExpressShelf is a new, pre-finished shelf and rod system that provides a fast and affordable alternative to traditional, painted-MDF plank and pole closet systems. In fact, this product can be installed by one person in less than half the time of traditional painted-MDF shelving, doubling productivity for work crews, enabling them to move on to the next job faster.

ExpressShelf also doesn’t need to be caulked or painted. Plus, it’s installed after-paint, allowing trim carpenters or after-paint specialty contractors to complete their jobs faster and turn over houses more quickly. And since these skilled laborers are more expensive to hire, reducing the amount of hours they are needed significantly reduces labor costs.

Smart, limited use of skilled laborers and reliance general laborers is the best way to attack the current housing market. That’s why leading manufacturers are developing solutions that can complement this attack. Products like ExpressShelf are, in many ways, the result of the current demand on home builders to do more with less. Moving forward, innovative products and systems will continue to help homebuilding businesses be as productive as possible with a reduced work force.

*Source: NAHB, As of September 2016

This article originally appeared on Builder.