Lack of Skilled Workers Could Slow Harvey Recovery


While Texas and Florida begin to rebuild from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, construction industry experts warn there are not enough skilled workers needed for the job ahead.

The U.S. Labor Department reported 267,000 job openings in the construction trades before Harvey hit.

“There's no question it's going to be tight for the existing labor force to do it,” says Jim Dutton, host of the “Texas Home Improvement” radio program. “I've been predicting it's going to take us somewhere around two to three years to do the construction and rebuild of what needs to be done.”

It also means the contractors who do converge on Texas and Florida will leave behind gaps in the industry elsewhere. Dutton there's no shortage of day laborers, but what's needed is skilled labor.

“The problem is people don't want to pay what it costs to have Americans do the job, so contractors like myself who hire nothing but legal people, we have to charge more and people don't want to pay the price, and everybody equates that to being a shortage,” he says.

And because of the massive workload, Dutton says that's where people get scammed by so-called "storm chasers.”

“Texas has no licensing other than electricians, plumbers and AC contractors, but the majority of your work is unlicensed and most of them are unskilled,” he says.


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