Builders' Shortage of Rough Carpentry Subcontractors Hits Record 90%

Labor and subcontractor shortages became even more widespread in July of 2018 than they were a year earlier, according to single-family builders who responded to special questions on the survey for the NAHB/Well Fargo Housing Market Index.

The July 2018 survey asked builders about shortages in 15 specific occupations that were either recommended by Home Builders Institute or other key stakeholders.  Shortages of labor directly employed by builders were at least fairly widespread for each of the 15 occupations, ranging from a low of 47 percent for building maintenance managers to a high of 83 percent for rough carpenters.

However, on the typical home building project, three-fourths of the construction cost represents work performed by subcontractors.  For that reason, it is particularly significant that, in the 2018 survey, the incidence of shortages was higher for subcontractors than for labor directly employed by builders in 14 of the 15 occupations.

At the bottom of the charts, the shortage incidence was the same (47 percent) for building maintenance managers, whether subcontracted or directly employed by builders.  For weatherization workers, the spread was 2 percentage points (50 percent for subcontractors vs. 48 percent for labor directly employed).  For the other 13 occupations, the incidence of the shortage was 4 to 9 percentage points higher for subcontractors.

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