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Labor Day Spotlight: The Impact Of A Dwindling Workforce On Commercial Real Estate

Labor Day is a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. Their efforts are vividly clear in commercial real estate, where workers have crafted some of the most renowned projects in the world, symbolizing the continued prosperity and health of the United States. 


Labor is moving back to the forefront of the industry’s consciousness as the workforce shrinks, costs rise and companies look for ways to draw in more workers even as they adjust methods and tools to do more with fewer people.

Here are eight ways the labor market and commercial real estate intersect:


The labor pool is getting older, and shortages will increase as baby boomers start to retire en masse. 


Hurricane Harvey may make matters worse in the construction industry, as materials and workers head to Houston for relief efforts.  


Weakened unions, underfunded education and dwindling immigration are all hurting the construction industry, and proposed federal policies could exacerbate each factor. 


Policies restricting immigration could devastate the industry, as experts insist the country does not have enough domestic workers to fill projects in the pipeline.   


Many parts of the country are at the tail end of an epic construction boom, which has stretched labor thin. Contractors poaching workers off construction sites has become so intense that some construction companies have started posting guards, while others have dramatically increased wages or training programs to remain competitive.


Developers and contractors are increasingly turning to prefabricated/modular construction and other innovations to decrease costs and labor requirements.  


Technology and automation could help to ease some of the workers' burden, though it could also eliminate jobs. Robots have already starting taking over, but there are still kinks.  


The labor shortage in real estate is not just on construction sites. Warehouses need more people to handle the logistics behind the ever-growing e-commerce sector. Warehouse operators are offering more in pay and benefits to attract workers.