The Story of the Disappearing Contractors

by Joel Harper on 2018-01-16 8:26am

Image by: bridgesward

One of the challenges facing the country in the near future is a shortage of skilled contractors. The housing market has made an effective recovery in the wake of the recession. The demand for housing has only increased. At the same time, the hurricanes that slammed the gulf states and Puerto Rico in 2017 caused incredible damage, requiring extensive cleanup and recovery efforts. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are not enough skilled contractors in the country to meet the increasing need for their services.

The Commercial Construction Index for the fourth quarter of 2017, a nationwide survey of contractors released by the USG Corporation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reported that 56% of the respondents stated that they found it difficult to find skilled workers. 58% of contractors surveyed reported that they were highly concerned about their workers having and adequate skill level. Specifically, the survey found that concrete, electrical, masonry, and steel erection workers were the most difficult to find.

There are numerous factors that have led to this situation. Contractors were hit hard by the recession and millions of jobs for contractors went away, putting millions of contractors out of work. This should have formed an abundant pool of skilled contractors to fill the jobs that were created as the economy recovered. In other words, based on this, there shouldn’t be a shortage. In reality, many of those contractors who lost their jobs during the recession didn’t return to the field when the economy improved.

Another factor affecting the number of skilled contractors has to do with age. Many of the skilled contractors currently in the field are approaching retirement age, and there are not enough younger contractors to replace them. This is largely a result of a stigma toward trades in general, including contracting. Younger individuals are routinely encouraged to pursue a college degree that will open up careers in the tech or financial sector. This negatively frames a career in the trades and ignores the financial potential of this kind of career path. It also means that it is less likely that a younger person will become a skilled contractor, further depressing the number of skilled contractors that are available.

This shortage presents a big problem. However, this also presents a great opportunity. This is the ideal time to become a contractor as the need for skilled contractors may never be as great as it is right now. People need contractors to build their homes. And, people need contractors to rebuild their communities. The services that a contractor can provide are in demand.

The shortage of skilled contractors in the country could become a major crisis in the coming years. For contractors or anyone considering becoming a contractor, through, this is a golden opportunity. The iron is hot and now is the time to strike.


Joel Harper is a content writer for At Your Pace Online. In his over five years with the company, he has written on numerous educational topics. Joel is a graduate of Southern Oregon University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife and dog.