Labor Shortage?

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Yeah, I know what you're saying: "Not in my neighborhood." I was surprised too, when I heard a radio report on Marketplace claiming that there is actually a worldwide shortage of plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. I talked with a California builder the other day who said his ad for a project manager drew 200 applications. No shortage there. New home sales are at their lowest level in decades. According to this table, monthly housing starts peaked in January 2006 at over 2.2 million. For the last couple of years, the industry has staggered along at about one quarter of that output. So: Four years ago we seem to have had enough labor to build four times the number of houses we're building now, and there's a labor shortage? Where did everybody go? --Bruce D. Snider



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