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Hurricane Harvey's Far-Reaching Impact Could Exacerbate The U.S. Construction Labor Shortage

Rebuilding in Texas after Hurricane Harvey could take longer than expected, and a shortage of construction workers could exacerbate the cost of repairs and construction nationwide.

Builders, contractors, construction workers

An estimated 30,000 homes were destroyed in Houston during the storm and thousands more suffered serious damage. Labor shortages have been an issue for years, particularly in the states of Texas and Louisiana and in the mid-Atlantic, and Harvey has proven to intensify the problem.

In a recent report following the natural disaster, CoStar estimated 27% of Houston's gross leasable area was likely flooded — that represents $55B in property value. Things could get even worse if Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the southeastern U.S. this weekend, Wall Street Journal reports.

Prior to the storm, contractors were already facing delays of one to two months. Now, those wait times could grow exponentially, along with wages and material costs, the Journal reports.

In fact, Houston may face such a severe crisis that it could affect the U.S. economy as a whole by pushing up material costs and driving down the unemployment rate for construction workers even further. Experts have said Harvey could be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history with recovery estimated to reach $190B.