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Construction industry short of skilled laborers

PHOENIX - As the housing and construction industries continue to recover, there is a shortage of labor in Arizona.

Rebekah Morris, publisher of Arizona Builder's Exchange, a construction trade magazine, said many jobs left when the recession hit and they haven't come back.

"The recession just killed us, as an industry it killed construction," she said. "Those workers had to do something … you don't put your life on hold for 5 years, you have to find something (so) they found employment either out of state and stayed in the industry or they left the industry."

Morris said the shortage is also due to cultural attitudes toward the industry.

"We're not telling our kids, our high school kids and our junior high kids it's OK if you don't want to go to college, you can still make a decent living if you go get a skill," she said. "Culturally, we're telling them, ‘you have to go to college, you have to go be a white-collar professional.'"

The void could have negative effects on consumers as the shortage will drive up the price of labor, Morris said.

"They're absorbing it right now," Morris said. "That will eventually hit the bid price. Your prices for construction will go up because of the demand for labor."

She encourages people to look into the construction industry and said people can to go vocational or trade schools for a lot less money and time commitment than college.

"You can go start earning immediately," she said. "If you did four to six years of training as an apprentice or just as a trainee at a private company, you will probably be making as much after those four to six years as your entry-level college graduates, but you will have no debt."

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About the Author


A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.

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