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Home prices up, but so are construction job opportunities

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 19:59:47-05

With "Help Wanted" signs posted around northeast Wisconsin, soon-to-be high school graduates have plenty of options if they are looking for work.

One of those options is the construction industry.

"Starting out... we'd go anywhere from $16 to $20-an-hour to get people started," said Cheri Galecke, director of human resources for De Pere-based DeLeers Construction.

A $20-an-hour, full-time job means yearly pay of more than $40,000.

"We could use up to 30 people, if we had them today," said Galecke. DeLeers is seeing a labor shortage, according to Galecke.

And they are not alone.

Brad Boycks, the executive director of the Wisconsin Builders Association, said the labor shortage is one of the organization's members' top three issues, in addition to the price of supplies and supply chain disruptions.

Boycks said the worker shortage can mean construction projects get delayed, and is one factor in the cost of housing.

"I think generally it's going to increase the cost of a building project, whether that's building a new home or remodeling," Boycks said.

The median price of a home sold in January in northeast Wisconsin was $210,000, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Compared to the same time last year, that price is up about 13 percent.

Boycks said that if more people joined the industry, housing prices could come down, but also cited the cost of supplies and supply chains for materials as playing a role in the cost of a home.

Galecke said that competition for labor is too strong right now, and more entrants to the industry would not play a role in lowering the cost of housing.

"...[T]he demand for labor, and the demand for materials is so high, it's so competitive, that's what's driving the costs up," Galecke said.