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Trade Labor Shortage Is Frustrating Homeowners

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

In a world where time is money, the skilled trade labor shortages rob us of both.

Longer wait times, higher costs, and subpar quality are a few issues that current labor shortages are creating. The skilled trade labor gap isn’t a statistic; it’s a crisis.

According to a report by PeopleReady Skilled Trades, a trades job placement company, job openings are far outpacing the supply of qualified workers to fill them.

The ever-growing need for skilled workers spares few trade industries. 

According to the 2023 Career Advancement in Manufacturing Report by Xometry and The Women in Manufacturing Association, 82% of manufacturing companies are experiencing a labor shortage. 

According to the report, positions are open for entry-level production, assemblers and fabricators, and engineers. Emerging tech positions are similarly in demand as companies push forward into the era of cutting-edge technologies.

Still — some industries are experiencing far more acute shortages.

The construction workforce shortage tops more than half a million workers this year. This shortage is according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). A model developed by ABC shows that the industry will need to attract about 546,000 more workers. That number is on top of the average pace of hiring needed to meet demand in 2023.

“We met with a contractor in mid-August, hoping to get a small deck built this fall. We’re now in his queue for mid-spring. The trade shortage is great for the ones doing the work. But it is frustrating for homeowners wanting to hire them,” says Ashley Pichea of RootedWanderings.com.

Electricians, too, are suffering the effects of intense shortages. Twenty years ago, the National Electrical Contractors Association predicted an electrician shortage. They were right.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) named electricians among the most challenging construction jobs to fill. Although finding skilled labor remains a problem across the construction industry, 79% of firms need help finding electricians, according to the AGC’s 2022 Workforce Survey. 

According to the BLS, the average age of electricians is hovering around 41. This age means the pool of qualified electricians will drain as retirees leave the workforce. Sadly, no one is coming in to fill the gap.

According to the Pew Research Center, early retirement increased in 2020 and 2021 amid the pandemic. That trend is passing as the workforce rebounds. The BLS predicts more workers in 2030 than 2020, but the lack of incoming workers is concerning.

There needs to be more interest in skilled labor among millennials and Gen Z. Misconceptions about the trades, mismatched skills, and the ever-present push for collegiate education tend to drive younger generations away from trade careers.

Matt DiBara, CEO of The Contractor Consultants, shared his thoughts on this challenge. “The biggest challenge right now is the stigma around the skilled trades. There’s nothing overly exciting about working hard in today’s society. We live in a culture where the less you work, the cooler you are, and the more time you spend on vacation, the cooler you seem. If you go out with your friends and tell them you’re involved in a skilled trade like plumbing, there’s no excitement or prestige. It’s almost as if you should be embarrassed about it as if you’ve somehow made a wrong choice in your career path.”

The industry must do more to replace retirees and get younger generations interested. 

As electricity consumption grows year after year, electrician jobs are projected to grow by 9.1% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS. That’s 1.4% higher than the growth rate expected for all other occupations.

Demand for electricians, construction workers, and skilled tradespeople has remained unchanged. As the echoes of the pandemic play out, many manufacturers are looking to re-shore their production, bringing manufacturing back home. 

According to a poll in collaboration with Forbes, Zometry, and polling firm John Zogby Strategies, 82% of CEOs have embraced or are embracing reshoring strategies — up significantly from 55% of CEOs in the previous January survey.

Efforts to attract talent are well underway across the country. The U.S. Labor Department funds efforts to attract more women to trade careers. Some states offer tax credits and tuition support to businesses that hire and train apprentices. The National Association of Home Builders, a trade group network, has a Workforce Development outreach program to promote careers in the skilled trades.

Skilled tradespeople are the backbone of our infrastructure, development, and modern society. They build and maintain the foundations of an increasingly modern world — from roads and highways to homes, high-tension wires, and beyond, the trades keep society running.

Take the shortage of heavy and tractor-trailer trust drivers, for example.

It’s easy to forget that a single apple might travel upwards of 4,000 miles to sit on a shelf. It’s easy to forget the rigorous transportation process and the people who keep that transportation chugging along.

We will need more than 80,000 truck drivers to make up for the current shortage in America, as told to CNN by Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association. This shortage comes when U.S. ports already have a backlog of shipments — causing a massive ripple throughout the supply chain.

Importers don’t have enough drivers to move their cargo at all hours — without drivers, the bottleneck at the port is inevitable. In due time, these bottlenecks could result in price increases due to artificial scarcity.

Truck drivers move 71% of the U.S. economy’s goods but represent 4% of the vehicles on the road, said Spear. If everything stays the same, the industry will face a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030. With the need for 1,000,000 new drivers over the next ten years, according to the American Trucking Association.

We cannot overstate the effects of these labor shortages. Without the trades, the world grinds to a halt.

We would not have everyday goods delivered to our stores. Ships would stay stuck in port until workers could offload the goods.

On a larger scale, the trades themselves suffer. Home repair would become a slow, arduous process. Electricians, technicians, and home-builders would have less time. They would be juggling more clients than they can handle. 

Elise Armitage of What That Fab told us, “My husband and I bought our first home during the pandemic, and we’ve been working on house projects ever since. There have been a couple of large projects, like redoing our backyard and front yard to make it drought resistant, that have been on hold indefinitely due to how difficult it’s been to find contractors with availability, as well as astronomical prices for materials.”

The problems stemming from this labor shortage are many. Younger generations are the key to solving the issues. The difficulty is understanding how to convince them that the trades offer great opportunities.

While the world continues to push a college degree, well-paying jobs with little educational debt go unfilled.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.