Where Did All the Construction Workers Go?
Even as there are more jobs to do, it's still a classic case good news, bad news for South Florida's construction industry. Miller Construction Co president Harley Miller tells us why.
First the upside: dropping oil prices mean that costs for roofing, paving and other petroleum-based products are steady. And Harley doesn't see any significant increases in materials costs in the next six months to a year. Rising costs in certain materials, like concrete for the massive condo projects in Miami-Dade, should be offset by petroleum-based materials. Harley’s snapped with CEO Tom Miller at the University of Florida's 2014 Construction Hall of Fame. The two were recently inducted into its ranks.
On the other hand, labor costs are shooting up. Construction costs are rising not just due to labor shortages, but also because GCs and subcontractors are all busy and no longer taking work at discounted prices, Harley says. GCs are looking for management as well as masons, carpenters, electricians--all the trades. Case in point: last week's career fair at UF's M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management drew 100 companies to interview only 45 construction management students. It's the reverse of five years ago, when labor was cheap and materials costs were spiking, Harley says.