Here’s the good news (for employees):
The demand for both skilled and unskilled labor is high in Tulsa. In fact, we’ve rarely seen it higher. That means there are plenty of jobs in the construction industry, which offer solid pay and benefits in exchange for good, honest work.
Many people are hiring for concrete contractors, framers, roofing contractors, plumbers, electricians and HVAC contractors. If you want a job in this industry in Tulsa right now, you can get it.
And, even better news, these jobs come with a healthy starting pay. Currently, a new hire with no experience and a valid Oklahoma driver’s license can make between $12-$14 an hour. With experience, that pay jumps to $18-$25 per hour. That’s a good living.
Here’s the bad news (for employers):
We have a serious shortage of people we can place in these well-paid jobs. And the shortage is what is driving up the wages. In fact, the shortage is causing employers to pay more per hour than we ever have paid.
And here’s the additional bad news (for home buyers):
This increased cost in labor coupled with the increased cost of materials are driving up the median price point for residential houses in Tulsa. That means your same dollar is buying you less home.
So what can we do to solve this job shortage to slow the increase in house prices?
There is no short-term fix to our labor problem in the construction industry. We first must realize that the solution to this problem takes time and effort from those both inside and outside the industry. We must re-educate our young people who are entering the job market.
Currently, we have seen a significant drop off in interest from high school graduates in entering the construction industry. Many local construction associations continually host job fairs for kids coming from high school and trade schools. This is helping, but it is not enough to make a large change.
Education must come from all sides to encourage the next generation to become plumbers, electricians, welders and all kinds of other skilled trades positions. These are professions where you can work your way up, advancing while you receive education, making quality money while you do it.
In addition, we must realize the help the Hispanic population has been to the construction industry. Their influence and support in construction has evolved significantly over the past 10 to 15 years.
We must advocate for those that want to work come legally to our country to work. I know many construction companies that would sponsor those workers to help fill the positions that are currently not getting filled.
We are at the front lines of the immigration issue in America, and we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Our industry continues to advance and create new technologies that streamline and ease the burden of construction. However, manual labor and skills will always be a needed asset on every job site.
Unskilled and skilled labors are needed now. Please educate those in your life to know the value of work with the construction industry.
Work with us to keep wages at a good, but sustainable, level to keep home prices moderate for all of us.