WSJ: Construction Skills Shortage is Real, Although Region Matters

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Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal looks at the shortage of skilled labor that some builders are concerned about, comparing the ratio of construction workers to housing starts and other data. His analysis supports the idea that some skills are indeed in short supply, but it can depend on the area one is in as well.

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A survey released by the National Association of Home Builders last month sheds some light on the disconnect.

The survey showed that the specific tradesmen that are most in demand tend to be framers and carpenters—trades whose skills are fairly specific to putting up new homes and less transferable to other fields. Painters, roofers, electricians and other workers who might have found employment doing remodeling or other improvement work throughout the downturn have been easier to come by, according to the builders’ survey.

The upshot may be that the framers and carpenters—who are both harder to find right now and who may have had fewer work opportunities during the downturn—may have “quit the sector entirely,” says Paul Diggle of Capital Economics, in a recent report.

The week’s biggest mover on the weekly Construction MMI®, European 1050 aluminum jumped 1.7 percent to close at EUR 2,275 ($3,055) per metric ton. Chinese aluminum bar remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 14,200 ($2,298) per metric ton.

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In the past week, US shredded scrap saw its price shift up 1.3 percent to $379.00 per short ton. Following a steady week, prices for the Chinese low price of 62% Australian iron ore fines closed flat at CNY 970.00 ($156.99) per dry metric ton. Chinese H-beam steel prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 3,230 ($522.76) per metric ton. Following a steady week, prices for Chinese rebar closed flat at CNY 3,220 ($521.14) per metric ton.

The weekly US Gulf Coast bar fuel surcharge fell 0.5 percent over the past week to $0.51 per mile. This was the fourth week in a row of declining prices. The weekly US Rocky Mountain bar fuel surcharge fell 0.4 percent for the week to settle at $0.53 per mile. The weekly US Midwest bar fuel surcharge fell 0.1 percent over the past week to $0.52 per mile. This was the fourth week in a row of declining prices.

The Construction MMI® collects and weights 9 metal price points used within the construction industry to provide a unique view into construction industry price trends. For more information on the Construction MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

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