Arizona's New Housing Crisis: No Workers - Businessweek
There’s a whiff of 2005 in the Arizona air. While D.J. Hughes hunts for carpenters to join his team at a Phoenix-area house-framing company, competitors are tracking down his workers at building sites and offering them more money. “Everybody is trying to pull crews from everyone,” says Hughes, a project manager for J.L. Baugh Construction in Gold Canyon, Ariz., who admits to attempted talent raids on rivals. “I’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century, and this is the biggest shortage of skilled laborers I’ve ever seen.”
Cash-wielding investors are driving demand as they snap up properties, and Arizona’s builders are having trouble finding skilled crews. Building permits are at an almost four-year high, creating a dearth of framers, roofers, and masons, many of whom moved elsewhere when work dried up. Laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration added to the shortage by pushing seasoned hands out of state.
Hughes, the Gold Canyon project manager, last month called three former foremen who returned to Mexico four years ago when local construction activity slowed. He persuaded one of them, who has proper documentation, to come back. The others, who he says also have documentation, are hesitant because they don’t like Arizona’s immigration laws