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Since the Great Recession, a shortage of skilled laborers and an aging workforce have defined the construction industry. With fewer younger individuals pursuing and entering careers in the trades, the average age of skilled laborers has increased over time. The skilled labor shortage is often cited by firms as one of the biggest obstacles in the construction industry, and sometimes even prevents firms from taking on additional work. To gauge the impact of the shortage at the beginning of 2020, the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) surveyed more than 500 contractor professionals.

Three-quarters of the surveyed contractors indicated the belief there is a skilled labor shortage within the industry, an increase from the 62% of contractors that held the same belief two years ago. Despite these beliefs, only 42% of respondents reported their own company was short staffed. Of firms seeing a shortage, more than half said they are taking fewer projects overall to combat the skilled labor shortage. Other popular strategies to combat the skilled labor shortage include using time-saving products, specializing in a smaller range of projects, accepting only high-paying projects, and narrowing the company's geographic area.

Over half of the surveyed professionals said that at least one of their projects in the first quarter of 2020 was delayed due to the labor shortage and, of this cohort, 35% experienced significant delays of more than three weeks.

More than one-third of respondents believe the labor situation will be better in the next two years due to jobs being available, which will lead more people to pursue careers in the trades. Fewer than 30% believe the situation will be worse in two years, citing a lack of interest in the trades. The HIRI/Farnsworth Group survey does not account for the potential impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the skilled labor shortage. Many firms have been forced to lay off or furlough workers in the short term, and it is unknown what long-term effect this will have on the construction labor pool.