Retiring Baby Boomers causing construction worker shortage

Construction will help account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, but a shortage of workers is causing concern across the country as Baby Boomers retire. 

"When we have general contractors that ask us to bid more work for them and we have to say no we can’t because we don’t have people to do it,” said Ben Boomer, president of Twin City Hardware in Oakdale, Minnesota. "That’s a hard thing to swallow."

"Just about every industry is being affected in some way and everybody is clamoring for fish in the pond to catch," said Peter Hilger, a construction and facility management professor at the University of Minnesota.

With Baby Boomers retiring amid a strong economy, a national workforce shortage is hitting the construction industry extra hard. At the U, Hilger also works as the internship adviser for students looking to get into the industry.

"Everybody is getting as creative as they possibly can,” said Hilger. “I’m afraid we’re going to be jumping into the cradle soon and trying to put a tool belt on that baby with a diaper."

Boomer is snatching up talent whenever he can find it, even if that means hiring someone before there's even an opening.

"We’re trying to be proactive and get the people in place within our company, so that when we need those jobs and we know we will, they’re ready to go," Boomer said.

Upon hiring, the new employee goes through an eight-week training period and Boomer says by the time they’re done, there's an opening.

"We used to post a job opening, we’d get some applications and hire someone,” said Boomer. “They’re just not coming in like that anymore."

Even with companies getting creative, the consumer will ultimately see the workforce shortage in their final bill.

"People are going to have to recognize that it’s going to take longer to build, to find the right quality of people and crews to actually accomplish that work and you’re going to be paying more for it," said Hilger.