Building Boom, Worker Bust: 20,000 Construction Workers Needed in DFW

Construction cranes continue to pop up across North Texas, but the workforce has not followed the builders back since the recession, according to the Dallas Builders Association.

The DFW area needs 20,000 more construction workers to keep up with the pace of growth in the region, the association says.

In fact, the group says the labor shortage in North Texas is worse than in any other part of the nation.

The association warns people looking to build or remodel a house to expect it will take longer and cost more.

A 5,500-square-foot home under construction in North Dallas is taking 14 months to build, according to the builder Michael Turner.

"That's what it'll be now," Turner said. "Typically when we build anywhere from 11 to 12 months."

Asked what the holdup is, Turner said it is a lack of labor.

"We just need more people in general," he said. "A good brick crew-size is 12 people. Now I'm lucky to get anywhere from six to eight people."

"We need 20,000 more construction workers in the DFW area," said Phil Crone, with the Dallas Builders Association. "There's a big 'help wanted' sign on this industry right now."

Crone says it's not just homes, but multi-family buildings and commercial projects are also impacted.

For laborers like Emilio Hernandez, it's job security.

"Yeah we have a lot of work," he said.

Builders are growing desperate, even recruiting workers on other job sites.

"Another contractor will come on site and mention to them that he's got a job down the street and is willing to pay $3 or $4 more an hour. Those guys will hop in the back of his truck and they're gone," Turner said. "Crazy isn't it?"

To help mitigate the shortage, the association wants shop classes to be reintroduced in schools if they're not already provided.

It is also calling on the Trump Administration to focus on a more viable visa program, especially since many workers are from Mexico.

Wages, the association says, have increased over the past three years. Laborers can make approximately $15 an hour, while licensed sub-contractors can make around $90,000 a year.

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