For many Florida contractors, the next big job is going to be a tough ride. The reason is the shortage of trained workers. Throughout the recessions, we lost thousands of jobs as residential and commercial building permits slowed down to a trickle. Many of the contractors who managed to stay in business had to lay off many good employees. Many of those employees left the State, and maybe left the industry.
Today, work is starting to come back, but the workers have not yet shown up in the numbers needed to get the job done right. We hear reports of shortages of drywallers, plumbers, framers, masons, and electricians.
Here is the kicker. Even though you may not be able to find the right people to do the job, you have still signed a contract saying you will do the work in a certain time frame. That could knock you out of the saddle. Contractors are increasing wages and increasing what they bid for new work. In some areas, the cost of building a commercial building has gone up between 25% and 30% in just the last two years.
Many of the workers are not going to come back to this industry. They’ve moved on to the oil and gas industry where they might be able to earn twice as much. The construction market is recovering faster than the supply of labor, and that could spell real trouble for contractors who find they can’t get the work done with the people available. Be careful you don’t over-promise in these times, or you may find yourself on a wild bull ride you will soon regret.