Construction Worker Shortage & Vaccine Balancing Act


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By Rich and Kathy Fettke and Kathy Fettke. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Contractors have been struggling with a worker shortage that began with the Great Recession, and then was made worse by the pandemic. If one worker on the job site gets sick with the virus, the entire project can be stalled for at least 2 weeks. And now, things are becoming even more complicated as more clients are wanting all workers on their property to be vaccinated. But many available workers are pushing back.

Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.

Getting the job done has been tough for contractors dealing with supply chain shortages, rising prices for the materials, and permitting issues. Add to it that the number of new coronavirus cases hit a 7-day daily average of 166,000 on September 1st. According to data in the New York Times, the case count has come down a bit since then but is still above 152,000. Some healthcare professionals are predicting another surge this month because of the Labor Day holiday and social gatherings, while others are saying that the Delta variant moves fast and furious and will be gone as quickly as it came.

Chicago-based developer, Josh Stark, told Construction Dive that worries about the high case count right now could further impact construction and the slow supply chain recovery that’s been haunting the industry. He says that we’re seeing suppliers come back online, but if those cases turn into more hospitalizations or deaths, then those businesses might have to shut down again.

Vaccine Hesitancy Among Construction Workers

While many different companies nationwide are mandating certain precautions for workers, including vaccinations for those who want to go back to work in the office, Construction Dive reports that more than 40% of construction workers say they will not get vaccinated.

A construction safety nonprofit out of Maryland called The Center for Construction Research and Training says that vaccine hesitancy among construction workers runs much higher than other occupations. A graph in the article shows most occupations are dealing with a vaccine hesitancy percentage of 15% which is about 25% less than the construction’s 40%.

This is a problem for contractors who have clients demanding that anyone who steps foot on their property be vaccinated. Kyle Peacock of the San Francisco-based Peacock Construction says he started getting vaccine mandates from his customers in just the last few weeks. He says: “All of our healthcare clients are doing it, but we’ve also had a couple office tenants that said they’re only going to let vaccinated people into their offices.”

Job Site Mandates for Vaccinated Workers

There are some vaccinated workers who only want to work with other vaccinated employees, which is creating concerns about a labor shortage that could worsen in the coming months. Ken Simonson of the Associated General Contractors told Construction Dive that employment levels are already below their pre-pandemic peak in 36 states.

An opinion piece in Construction Dive by a New York-based contractor says the industry is already dealing with high prices for materials, appliances that are difficult to find, and a shortage of workers. And now, the construction industry has to add a Covid-problem-solving issue to his list.

He says: “Construction workers are, at their core, a hardy, headstrong, self-sufficient group.” And he added that “They leave their homes daily and travel substantial distances, carpooling and ride-sharing. They stop at delis, lumber stores and home goods stores." That makes them more exposed to the potential of catching the virus and spreading it than those working from home.

Risk of Further Impact to Worker Shortage

There are many, many strong opinions as to why people should or should not get the vaccine, and why the do or don't want it. We won't go into those reasons here. What's important for real estate investors to understand is how this situation may affect our industry.

If 40% of construction workers are not planning to get vaccinated, will there be a further shortage of workers over the next few months or years if more job sites require it? Fewer workers would put more downward pressure on an already short supply because fewer homes could be completed without workers. If demand for housing continues, but supply stays low, prices will likely continue to rise.

If you’d like to read more about this issue in the Construction Dive articles, check for links in the show notes at And please remember to hit the subscribe button, and leave a review!

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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.

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