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IPFS News Link • Employment & Jobs

Houston Is So Short Of Construction Help, Developers Are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

• by Lane Gillespie

A week later, pandemic lockdowns ground the construction industry to a screeching halt, setting off ongoing labor shortages and project delays that have since been compounded by layoffs, the Great Resignation and severe materials shortages.

When the W Hotel project picks back up later this year for Horizon, it will mark more than two years of labor and materials difficulties that have driven up costs and delayed projects for the entire American construction industry. For Horizon, specifically, the travails of the past 24 months have boosted project costs by tens of millions of dollars and driven the firm to consider a unique solution — creating its own trade school to train construction laborers.

Labor shortages, especially in the dangerous and high-stress construction industry, aren't new. But like nearly every pinch point in commercial real estate, the problem was exacerbated by the pandemic. As of the end of 2021, the Houston construction industry had only recovered a fraction of the 24,000 jobs lost due to Covid-19, according to Greater Houston Partnership data. As projects are restarted amid recovery, the market must gain even more jobs, 27,700 in total, to recoup losses and have enough hands on deck to go forward with planned projects.

Al Kashani, vice president at Horizon, told Bisnow all of his projects, in Houston and elsewhere in the U.S., have come upon pandemic-related labor and materials challenges.

"Oh, my God, you never have enough labor in Houston," Kashani said. "Even during downtime, it's not enough sufficient amount of labor."

Kashani estimates Horizon, which is involved in both development and construction, employs thousands of ground-level construction workers directly or indirectly and has about 35 or 40 managerial employees. He needs another 500 in the field, and says the company needs about 30 additional managers.

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