Construction industry struggles to fill positions
After the 2007 housing market crash, many skilled workers left Douglas County to find work elsewhere, but not enough have come to replace them.
“What we have now as the market is getting going again is a whole crop of new guys coming into the market that don’t necessarily have the experience,” housing developer Tim Drechsel said. “It’s tough to even find guys now because it’s a heavy manual labor type position, so getting them trained and getting them to show up on time and clean, it’s a huge issue.”
Construction employment in the county grew with the national housing bubble between 2000 and 2006 to reach 2,060 jobs, according to Regional Economist Annette Shelton-Tiderman. After the number of permits began dropping with the market crash, construction employment slowed slightly as local contractors finished the projects they had already started.
By 2013, however, Douglas County had only 50 percent of its 2006 peak construction employment, and 58 percent by 2015.
Instead of a chosen occupation like it might have been for generations in the past, Drechsel said he thinks construction has become a job to fall back on for money, and one that doesn’t inspire much passion in young people anymore.