Friday, November 2, 2018

Finding Skilled Labor is Like Playing Hide and Seek

Yesterday I went shopping for the first of my Christmas gifts and noticed every single store had help wanted signs in their windows. That is to be expected for this time of year.


However the signs were not like the ones I had seen before. About half listed the starting hourly wages on them. Wages from $15-18 an hour were the norm and most of them guaranteed 40+ hours through Christmas and full time in 2019.

One of the bigger stores had an employee at the front door handing our job applications.

Health Insurance, paid vacations, 401K, performance bonus and other perks could be found on almost every sign.

I stopped by Lowe’s on the way home to buy some discounted Halloween decorations and saw a familiar face at the lumber service desk. It was a new home site builder I’d met last year on one of his jobs. He told me that he figured he was further ahead mentally working at Lowe’s than spending time and energy on finding labor for his jobs. He said he was paying $20 an hour for laborers and still couldn’t keep them working.

A couple would only show up a few days a week and one was even dealing meth on the job.

And this brings me Amazon. I realize they probably have the same labor issues everyone else does but here is the big difference. When I hit ‘Submit’ on Amazon’s site to place my order it usually arrives within a day or two. I never think about a labor shortage at Amazon because everything happens just the way they promised it would.

But home builders are not Amazon clones. There are no instant houses unless you sell manufactured houses and deliver them off your street lot.

Home builders are being forced to look for workers that would rather work in a store with their peers for $18 an hour and lots of perks than work with their hands in the field for the $20 an hour with limited perks.

Trolling for skilled labor is even harder. Finding a trim carpenter that can do true custom work is getting expensive. Competing for their time with other modular and site builders is driving their wages higher and higher as demand is outstripping supply.

No longer can a builder simply put a help wanted ad in the local newspaper looking for laborers. No, today they must go into the home supply stores, the home and farm stores and anywhere else true hard working laborers have gone to get jobs and try and entice them to come work for you.

It truly has become a game of hide and seek. They hide and you seek them out waving $20 bills as bait.

1 comment:

Joe Wagensveld said...

Times change always does! Used to be ,make a few phone calls and start a Job/project tomorrow.Now you scour the internet,jump through hoops.Submit Resumes/CV's...possibly get a call from a 20 year old recruiter and play word association games, jump through more hoops...and voila never hear anything again. Construction has never been an easy game and finding the guys that love to build gets harder.