Construction company owner says labor shortage means he’s paying up to $20 an hour to workers who have ‘no idea’ how to do the job



  • The owner of an understaffed construction company tells The Arkansas Traveler he’d hired inexperienced workers.

  • He said he was hiring workers who “absolutely have no idea how to operate in my industry.”

  • He added that he’d fired most of his new hires because they were “flat-out lazy.”

The owner of an understaffed construction company says he’s so desperate for labor that he’s hiring workers who have no experience of the industry.

JD Huddleston, owner of Concrete Creations and Excavations in Centerton, Arkansas, told The Arkansas Traveler that he’d struggled to find qualified staff since the start of the pandemic.

As a result of the shortage, Huddleston said, his firm was missing out on revenues and he was having to work as part of the construction crews himself. 

“I’m turning down work all the time now,” he said, per the report.

The US is suffering from a labor shortage as record numbers of Americans quit their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Like Huddleston’s firm, other understaffed small businesses have reported the labor shortage is hurting their incomes.

Huddleston told the publication that he’d raised wages, offered paid vacation benefits to new hires, and hired staff from another contractor to plug his labor shortage. He said he was hiring inexperienced staff, too.

“I’m having to pay guys $18 to $20 an hour that absolutely have no idea how to operate in my industry, just to get them to show up,” he said.

In 2020, construction laborers earned an average hourly wage of $20.92 and an average annual wage of $43,520, per data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Huddleston told The Arkansas Traveler that he had had to dismiss most of the new staff construction he’d hired because they didn’t work hard enough.

“For every eight guys that I hire, I’ll almost certainly have to let go seven of them within 30 days, because they’re just flat out lazy,” he said.

Demand for construction boomed during the pandemic thanks to a wave of home improvements, but the industry’s workforce shrank, plummeting from 7.65 million workers in February 2020 to 6.53 million just two months later, BLS data shows.

“Hiring has been a challenge for a decade but the pandemic exacerbated it to the extreme,” Matthew Messer, the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, told Insider’s Heather Schlitz in July. “We’re all competing for an already small labor pool.”

More workers are returning to the industry as construction companies offer higher wages and sign-on bonuses to attract more staff. Around 7.45 million Americans worked in the industry in September, per preliminary BLS data.

More companies have been hiring workers with little or no experience amid the labor shortage so that they can keep their doors open. A restaurant manager in Virginia even said she was so desperate for staff that she had to employ rude people, who she said scared off customers.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

Read the original article on Business Insider


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