Construction worker shortage has companies turning down jobs - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Construction worker shortage has companies turning down jobs

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- The housing market seems to be on the rebound, which is good news to realtors. But that recent increase has homebuilder scrambling.  They say there's a lack of qualified construction workers to build those homes.

"Now it's just hard to find anybody," points out C & N Homebuilders Owner Cody Filipczak.

The housing market appears to be back in business. 

 "We have two parade homes this year.  We had over 1,800 people through this weekend.  It's just unbelievable," Filipczak says.

May stats haven't come in yet, but home sales nationally were up almost 10 percent this April compared to last.

Homebuilders are really enjoying the housing market rebound.  The problem is that they can't find enough employees to keep up.

"I've been trying to hire new employees most of the spring and getting some people but for the most part, it's a lot more difficult," remembers Filipczak.

WQOW asked the Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association why it's been so hard for companies to find qualified workers.

"As the construction industry and the housing industry declined and went through the downturn, a lot of our skilled-labor workforce was trained in other positions or took other jobs and so we lost a lot of workers," explains Jennifer Johnson with the Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association.

She says there were about 17,000 construction workers in Wisconsin alone at its peak in 2006.  Today, that number has been nearly cut in half.

"We've been turning down a lot of jobs for sure," Filipczak relents.  "We are able to take what we want now.  It's crazy. 

"Coming off of a time where they were almost desperate to get work, you don't want to say no," says Johnson.  "And so you want to be able to continue those but I'm hearing from a lot of folks that they are booked out."

Construction experts WQOW spoke with say the only way to reverse this trend is to get to people when they are younger and encourage them to join an industry that can pay very well.  They say they are looking for CVTC and even high school students to fill those available jobs.

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