Construction companies claim that the labor shortage forces them to pay higher wages for lower-skilled workers. Builders, in particular, feel the pinch as the number of skilled laborers trended downward in their industry before the issue spread into a broader economic pool.
JD Huddleston, owner of Concrete Creations and Excavations in Centerton, Arkansas, told the Arkansas Traveler that he turns down work all the time nowadays.
"I'm having to pay guys $18 to $20 an hour that absolutely have no idea how to operate in my industry, just to get them to show up," he said. "For every eight guys that I hire, I'll almost certainly have to let go seven of them within 30 days because they're just flat out lazy."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an initial economic hit in March 2020 caused the construction industry to shed more than a million jobs. Employment opportunities declined from 7.65 million in February to 6.53 million in April. Even with rebounding numbers—back up to 7.45 million—construction faced a severe labor shortage before the pandemic. As a result, some estimate that the industry will need to grow by at least a million more to meet job demand by 2023.
"Hiring has been a challenge for a decade, but the pandemic exacerbated it to the extreme," Matthew Messer, the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, told Business Insider. "We're all competing for an already small labor pool."