Could labor shortage become the latest constraint in U.S. housing growth? According to Fitch Ratings, a deficit in workers, particularly skilled trades, combined with a shortage of available finished lots and continued tight mortgage qualification standards could slow the recovery momentum.
However, it is unlikely the shortage would lead to disastrous national numbers for housing, Fitch reassured.
Larger public builders have reported having access to labor, although a shortage of works has been known to lengthen their construction timeline. However, Fitch believes large builders are more likely to source their needs to smaller competitors when scarcities occur.
During the housing peak, more than 8 million construction workers were employed. Unfortunately, many of those workers left the industry during the extended housing recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported than about 5.8 million construction workers were employed in May 2013.
"We believe the degree of labor shortage will depend on the pace of recovery," writes Fitch Ratings in a press release. "If the pace is moderate (which we expect) in 2013 and 2014, the shortage will only be prominent in certain markets. But, if we have a more V-shaped recovery, the labor shortages will probably be more pronounced."
Currently the labor shortages only affect areas growing at a faster pace than the national average, such as certain metro markets in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and California.