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Initially, that included Buck’s family, with the company renting a home in Moraga for Buck, his wife and two daughters.
Builders throughout the area say they are struggling to recruit skilled laborers.California’s construction workers are some of the best paid in the nation, according to 2016 data from the U. But that’s still not enough for many to afford homes in the Bay Area, and that’s driven some out of the industry, said Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.It didn’t help that after the housing bubble burst in 2008, droves of workers fled the trade and never returned.That means he’s spending more time on training, especially when it comes to safety.“The inexperienced people are more dangerous,” he said.“And the reason is manpower.” A look at the numbers suggests skyrocketing demand for new housing in the Bay Area is far outpacing job growth in the region’s construction industry.
The number of local residential building permits issued jumped 351 percent between 2009 — in the wake of the housing market’s collapse — and 2016, according to U. Department of Housing and Urban Development data for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Benito, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin counties. The construction worker shortage, coupled with lengthy permitting procedures, complex building codes and strict environmental rules, is contributing significantly to rising construction costs that have made San Francisco the world’s second most expensive city to build in, according to a new report from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation.
But Tao said construction costs have increased a whopping 50 percent in the past five years — which he attributes largely to the worker shortage driving up wages for skilled labor — and now he can’t turn enough of a profit on the So Ma building.
So he’s shelving it until conditions improve, and that means fewer options for the 500 to 600 people who could have lived in the new building. “There’s probably a few thousand housing units in the San Francisco area, Oakland, that can’t be built because construction costs are too high,” he said. “Pretty much every project that I’ve been associated with lately, there’s been delays,” Peter Friis, project manager at SRM Construction, said from the job site where his team is building a 130-unit apartment complex on Broadway in Oakland.
During that time, the number of construction jobs increased just 29 percent, according to the U. Fewer experienced workers also means today’s labor pool is less skilled than 10 years ago, resulting in decreased productivity, more reported mistakes and higher insurance and litigation premiums as developers use new subcontractors, the report’s authors said. In a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders, 82 percent of builders surveyed said the cost and availability of labor was a significant problem last year — up from 13 percent in 2011.
Dee Mc Gonigle, director of construction for SRM Development, LLC, builds large residential and mixed-used projects up and down the West Coast and sees the worker shortage from San Diego to Seattle.
The challenge of finding workers only exacerbates the Bay Area’s housing shortage.