Alabama’s Building Boom Labor Shortage

The Alabama homebuilding business is booming, and growing much faster than the construction employment sector. Over the past year, the state has seen a 13.6 percent increase in new home sales. Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile have performed even more solidly, with a 17 percent spike in each city over the previous year’s numbers. There have been 600 home building projects added since March, and the median price for a new home is $225,104. The residential homebuilding market, like the rest of the construction market in Alabama, is officially in a growth phase. If the new home construction market is on the increase, why haven’t the construction jobs in Alabama followed suit? As it turns out, the problem isn’t the availability of jobs, but the availability of skilled labor. The building permit activity in Alabama indicates that there are plenty of jobs, but many of them aren’t being filled.

According to Alabama Construction News magazine, the reason that construction employment numbers aren’t matching those of the state’s prosperous auto manufacturing industry is that, “if we’re making more cars, that means more people are going to be hired at the assembly plants and more people are going to be hired at the suppliers, so right now the automotive group and others in manufacturing are doing better for that reason.” Of all the available jobs, people are choosing to work in the manufacturing sector rather than the construction sector, even though there are plenty of jobs to be filled in the building trades.  As it turns out, the reason someone would choose assembly and manufacturing over construction is that they simply don’t have the right training.

Beginning in 2005, the state of Alabama began to realize that it would face a serious shortage of skilled building tradespeople in within a decade. With an aging experienced workforce and only one person entering a building trades apprenticeship for every four professionals who retire, something had to be done. That something resulted in the Go Build Alabama program. Since 2010, the state of Alabama’s Construction Recruitment Institute has been working to provide scholarships for training and apprenticeships for entry-level workers and to correct misconceptions about careers in the building trades and construction industry. To find out more about the Go Build Alabama program, check out their website. If you’ve completed a program and you’re ready to work, visit HBW and check out our building permit reports for construction job leads in the Alabama market.



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