Why can’t you find any painters?

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A Philadelphia Inquirer article about worker shortages opened with a photo of contractor Kevin Nolan of Nolan Painting. While offering a starting pay of $15 an hour, Nolan is still 20 painters short of what his company needs. The article quotes him as saying that while he desperately needs workers, there are just no applicants – this during the largest housing boom in 15 years.

The construction and painter shortage is nothing new, but as we inch past the pandemic, it seems the market is tighter than before. While some people are quick to blame federally increased unemployment compensation – and some states have proposed eliminating this to drive people back into the labor pool – there are many factors that could make it hard for you to find employees. It’s not a lack of jobs – those who paint new construction might be heartened by a report from the US Commerce Department that housing starts have reached their highest level since June of 2006.

It is, in fact, this housing boom that bears some responsibility for the shortage. An article in the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review noted that the boom has in many instances created more jobs than there are laborers to fill them. Neighboring city Coeur D’Alene, Idaho was named the top emerging housing market by the Wall Street Journal. It caught a lot of contractors off guard, as most weren’t prepared to hire the workers needed to get the jobs done.

On top of that, as we reported previously, the cost of building materials has increased significantly, so offering higher wages on top of that can drive the cost of a new home past the point where many people find a move affordable.

Not Just Unemployement Checks

It’s more than just unemployment, says Dr. Grant Forsyth, chief economist of Avista, a Spokane-based energy company. While some people may be staying home to collect, Forsyth acknowledged, he added that it isn’t the driving factor behind the worker shortage. Other family issues such as childcare play a role, and many in the trades still fear contracting COVID-19. These workers have delayed re-entering the work force and some are rethinking remaining in the trade.

Furthermore, it’s a nationwide issue, from Spokane to Philadelphia and thousands of miles in between. If one or two cities have a need for more workers, people will migrate to the jobs. If there’s a need everywhere, the booming city can’t siphon off workers from one with less activity.

The pandemic and following housing boom have exacerbated the ongoing issue of an aging construction workforce – the smaller population of the younger generation, along with a reduced interest in the trades, means that the employment issue facing painting contractors may not go away anytime soon.

On the bright side, the latest available hiring technology might just help you find quality workers to fill those spots.

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Finding good workers is just a part of being in the Painting business. We all know that it's easier to find good mechanics and laborers during a recession. During a boom time it is very tempting for employees to step out and try their hand at contracting, and many do. This being one reason for the shortage of painters. Never mind that most who attempt painting contracting don't make it due to a variety of reasons, it does somewhat impact the labor market, the new contractors need painters too. Another reason is many public school systems have replaced building trades courses with technology, computer and other courses. This with state and federal laws restricting the hiring and working of teenagers has impacted the labor market. In the 70's and 80's we received regular calls from 15, 16, and 17 year old high school students wanting summer jobs. They would also call wanting temporary jobs during Spring break, etc. Many showed interest in the trade and after graduation, apprenticed and went on to become journeymen. There are many other factors to consider such as Socialist politicians promising voters a Utopia without having to work for it and poor saps who believe it. Nonetheless it will always be a challenge. As always, one really qualified, reliable painter is worth his weight in gold!

One huge factor now impacting the professional painter market and employee shortage in general is substance abuse. Substance abuse was bad enough before the corupt politicians forced legalization of marijuana and other drugs. Also, alcohol sales and liquor stores open on Sunday, Walmart, Kroger and every other retailer stand ready to help alcoholics and drug addicts achieve full addiction. It is interesting to hear customers say they "had to run their painters and roofers off the job for smoking pot on roofs and ladders" and on the customers' property. The apathy toward this situation is even more pathetic than the situation itself! Can't find painters? Can't find workers? When we have Socialist politicians making anti-production, anti-prosperity and anti-free enterprise laws then this makes it difficult to find anybody awake!

Yes drugs and alcohol has created lots of problem, who wants to put some one high on a ladder, not me. We can't find painters, because no one has the skill level to do anything. At least show up to work for five days, they don't even show up for overtime on Saturday. Are young generation wants something sitting and office like they play there video games. I work with teenager off and on, the parents don't want there kids to work as hard as they do. A child who family struggles, will pick up and task or job, because they know how they have lived with nothing. Socialist part does not really affect the working person, who wants to work, Are socialist politician is about basic things like K-12 Schools, Parks, water, sewage, highways, roads, and medical. We still pay for all these services thru our taxes, we have not gone to the extreme, we need to stop giving the young generation everything they want, they are so spoiled mom and dad have done everything for them, like have housekeeper making there beds, cleaning there rooms. Some do not even know there left from there right. Have you notice the cars have dumb us down by putting and arrow next to the gas pump to tell which side is your tank is on. Some young generation have never mowed the grass, or even painted there bed rooms. They have no skills to do anything, and to them it is hard labor. Don't think of the military they say they do not want someone to tell them what to do, but every job someone tells you what to do. Even the general contractors tell the subcontractors what they want done and when. We really need to look at how American kids are raised, the kids who are not given much or have to work for what they want are more successful, and are hard workers

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