Michigan home builders have trouble finding skilled workers

May 29, 2013

Building permits are up by more than a third this year in Michigan.  Home prices are also rising.

These should be great days for Michigan’s homebuilding industry, which nearly ground to a halt during the recession.

But there’s a problem: not enough workers.

A survey finds a third of Michigan homebuilding contractors are having trouble finding enough workers to do the job. 

The problem is worse in the skilled trades.   46% of home builders and 83% of home remodelers report having trouble finding carpenters.   Framers, tile layers, plumbers, roofers and other skilled workers are also in short supply.

Robert Filka is the CEO of the Home Builders Association of Michigan.   He says during the recession, thousands of construction workers left the industry in Michigan.    Some moved to other states.  Others started new careers.   A few retired. 

Once only seen in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Filka says the worker shortage is affecting contractors statewide.

“If they are not impacted here and now, they’re going to be very soon,” says Filka.

Filka insists the worker shortage is not hurting the industry right now, just delaying projects.

But he says the problem will grow. 

“As capitol becomes more greatly available,” says Filka, “The labor shortage will definitely impact and constrain the growth of the building industry in Michigan.”

Filka says the long term solution is for more young people in Michigan to train in the building trades.