Sunday, August 10, 2014

Labor shortages starting to appear?

The unemployment rate has fallen to almost six percent, but with the employment/population ratio at a 30 year low I have been reluctant to argue we are anywhere near hitting labor force capacity.  However, I have run across a couple of news stories in the last week that signal the possibility that some shortages are starting to appear in some markets.

Story #1: Neil Irwin's NYT piece on the shortage of truckers.  Training requirements are not especially high and wages have lagged behind inflation over the last five years.  But big companies claim they are having a hard time finding qualified applicants and some are starting to pony up, a $2k bonus here and an increase in mileage there.

Story #2: The local N&O reports that a big multifamily residential construction project in Cameron Village has been slowed down because of a shortage of qualified workers.  The contractor claims that similar shortages are facing the industry nationwide.  Frankly, this one is a bit hard to believe given the drastic downsizing the construction industry has undergone.  But maybe folks who lost their construction jobs five to six years ago have found something else they prefer to do.

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