Here’s a dual problem which could be solved simultaneously. For starters:
“A shrinking pool of homes for sale across the country and in the Cincinnati area is pushing up prices – exacerbating an already existing affordability gap for many buyers.”1
Then why aren’t more houses being built?
“’It’s just hard to find enough construction workers today to build more,’ [Issi] Romem [chief economist at Buildzoom] said. ‘The economy has lost a lot of young workers, and the construction industry is aging much faster than other industries. There are far fewer construction workers available today than there were before the housing boom, which hurts the push to build more.’”1
Meanwhile, we see it frequently, and especially on the coasts, a demand for a $15 per hour minimum wage – even though costs of living vary greatly across the nation. Based on data for early this year, New York and California (where much of the noise emanates from) have the fourth and second highest cost of living for the fifty states.2 Therefore, it would be insane for a $15/ hour minimum wage to be forced upon the median state, South Dakota, where $11.03 per hour would accomplish the same as $15 in California. Based on its lowest of all costs of living, only $9.38 would be needed in Mississippi. How many jobs would be eliminated in that state if it was required to pay 60% more for the same work?
Back to the shortage of construction workers. “Construction workers [in New York City] earn a median hourly wage of $18.68. Hourly wages typically start from $10.93 and go up to $41.47.” Also, due to the erratic nature of the work, average earnings for general construction workers was $35,750 in 2014. Carpenters earned about $10,000 more and iron and steel workers $17,000 more.3
Minimum wage for fast food workers in New York City was officially raised to $12.00 at the beginning of this year… a job not intended to be a career to support a family. It will increase annually until it reaches $15.00 by the end of 2018.4
Assuming fifty weeks of forty hours, the fast food worker would earn $30,000 starting in 2019 – if jobs aren’t eliminated because of the 25% increase over two years.
Maybe the construction workers will get a nice raise, too, buy maybe not.
This is not to say that fast food isn’t difficult at times, but compared to construction?
In the end, why work really hard in temperature extremes and be subject to erratic work schedules based on the weather for $35,750 as a general construction worker4 when big government says you should receive $30,000 for mostly indoor work? (also possible as big government forces these businesses to offer 40-hour weeks someday)
Perhaps we’ve solved the mystery of why there’s a construction worker shortage.
1 – “Affordability Poses Homebuyer Challenge, by Randy Tucker, Kentucky Enquirer, 7/29/2017.
2 – https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/, for Ohio readers of this blog, $10.20 per hour accomplishes the same as $15.00 in California (understanding, of course, it will be higher for the urban areas and lower for rural).