Metro Phoenix led the nation for losing the most construction jobs during the housing crash.

Now, Valley builders are hiring. But Arizona has one of the biggest shortages of construction workers in the U.S.

The shortage in workers could delay new metro Phoenix home sales, which are running at the highest level since the housing crash.

At least 82 percent of Arizona contractors are having a hard time filling jobs, according to a new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.

That’s higher than national average of 80 percent.

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Cash offers for skilled workers

Valley home builders have been talking about the shortage of skilled labor needed to keep up with the rising demand from buyers for a couple of years.

Contractors will often offer painters, framers and drywallers working in new Mesa, Gilbert, San Tan Valley, Surprise and Buckeye subdivisions cash bonuses to leave their competition and come work for them the next day.

About 50 percent of Valley contractors reported in the survey that they are losing workers to other builders.

And about 68 percent of Arizona builders think the shortage of construction workers will get worse this year.

Building boom

Metro Phoenix’s apartment building boom is drawing more of the construction industry’s skilled workers. And that new development spree isn’t expected to slow during the next year.

About 23,500 new Valley houses are expected to go up this year, according to Belfiore Real Estate Consulting. That’s the most since 2008.

In 2019, Jim Belfiore is forecasting 25,400 new metro Phoenix houses will be built, and then 26,000 in both 2020 and 2021.

That’s still half the pace of metro Phoenix home building during 2005 and 2006. But many of the 250,000-plus construction workers who lost their jobs during the crash have left Arizona or the industry.

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Higher wages, prices

With the Valley’s low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, it’s not hard to see why a former or potentially new construction worker might opt for an inside job instead of spending the day outside in the summer heat.

Arizona housing analyst RL Brown said labor costs are up and will continue to rise because of the shortage of workers.

Higher labor costs mean higher new home prices.

Belfiore is forecasting new home prices in the Phoenix area will climb five to seven percent this year and four to six percent next year.





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