Home Depot, Lowe’s Take Aim at Construction Labor Shortage
Two major construction supplies retailers are turning their attention to an acute construction labor shortage that is slowing home-building efforts and driving up house prices, reports USA Today. Both Home Depot and Lowe’s have announced moves that will help train more workers in the field of construction, a move that will ultimately benefit the retailers, for which 40 percent of sales are attributed to construction workers.
$50 million donation for training
The article reports Home Depot has announced a donation through its Home Depot Foundation of $50 million over the next ten years for the purposes of training 20,000 construction workers. The donation will go to the Home Builders Institute (HBI), the construction industry’s educational arm, which will reportedly use the proceeds to train U.S. military personnel, veterans, high school students, and disadvantaged youth in the construction trades.
Home Depot’s $50 million initiative is said to be in addition to another $250 million program seeking to provide housing to veterans. Of the anticipated 20,000 construction workers trained, soldiers and veterans are expected to make up about 75 percent.
Lowe’s pays employees to learn construction
Home Depot’s move comes on the heels of its retail competitor Lowe’s, which announced a new pilot program to pay select Lowe’s employees $2,500 to take an online construction course. Lowe’s employees in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Richmond, Va., who are interested in potentially switching careers were invited to take part in the pilot program.
Labor shortage affecting 84 percent of contractors
Both efforts are taking aim at an acute labor shortage in the home-building industry. The article reports that there were 158,000 construction job openings across the country in December, up from 140,000 a year earlier. In a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a reported 84 percent of contractors cited worker availability as a significant problem.
The labor shortage is having an effect on the housing industry. Robert Dietz, chief economist for NAHB, told the news outlet there is an existing demand for 1.3 million single-family homes, yet only 900,000 homes are expected to be delivered this year. With demand outpacing supply, the median sales price in January was up a reported 5.8 annually to $240,500.