Hurricane Harvey Expected to Impact North Texas Construction Industry

Rebuilding effort along Texas Gulf Coast will like make local labor shortage "a lot worse," per industry insider

North Texas escaped the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey that inundated the Texas Gulf Coast, but that does not mean Dallas-Fort Worth will not feel any noticeable impact from the storm.

For example, the construction industry — which is already stretched thin due to ever-increasing demand and a shortage in supply of workers — is bracing for a hit from Harvey over the coming months.

“[Harvey] will make the labor shortage that we’ve had here a lot worse, at least in the months to come and into the first quarter of next year,” said Phil Crone, Executive Officer of the Dallas Builders Association, a trade association that supports hundreds of Dallas-area construction companies.

Crone estimated that North Texas construction companies already suffer from a shortage of at least 20,000 workers who are badly-needed to keep up with the booming growth in the region.

With an untold amount of renovation and construction work that will be needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — Governor Greg Abbott estimates that cleanup alone could cost $180 billion — Crone said many savvy construction workers from here could soon head there.

“I’m not saying that all the workers around this area are going to go down to Houston and be a part of the rebuilding effort,” Crone said. “But certainly some of them will, and we don’t have enough to go around.”

Crone anticipates that construction projects will likely be costlier as a result of the worker shortage, and that they will take longer to complete.

In addition to the availability of labor, Hurricane Harvey is expected to impact the cost of construction supplies in North Texas as well.

Experts told NBC 5 Responds plywood, softwood lumber and fiber board are all in short supply and prices have been climbing long before any hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Trump administration decided to slap a 10-percent tax on Canadian soft wood lumber at the beginning of the year," said David Lei, strategy professor at Southern Methodist University. "Most of the lumber does come from Canada. You're exasperating a shortness of supply when you have a huge demand."

Lei said the tariffs, along with the demand for home building both in DFW and in Houston, will likely lead to lumber prices rising about 20 percent.

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