More assistance is desperately needed by construction companies in the South.
In some of the hardest-hit places this hurricane season, such as Louisiana and Texas, a nationwide scarcity of trained labor is hampering recovery. Contractors in the area say they’re struggling to keep up with the demand.
“People rely on us,” Allen Gautreaux, the manager of Ameristar Roofing in Houma, Louisiana, explained. “If we don’t perform our job, no one will get support, and people here need need it.”
Gautreaux says his office has received at least a hundred calls every day since Hurricane Ida struck in late August.
Gautreaux described the situation as “very overpowering.” “We’re drawing resources from all over the place, gathering supplies from anywhere we can.”
Gautreaux claims that his firm is surviving because extra personnel were brought in from the Houston branch.
“On the labor and sales side, we’ve quadrupled our employees,” Gautreaux added. “That’s the only way we’re going to make it out alive.”
The number of trade employees, such as construction laborers, plumbers, and carpenters, has decreased since 2018, according to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The amount of people joining the roofing profession, according to Reid Ribble, CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), is insufficient to replace those who are retiring.
“We have roughly 35,000 employees retire from the roofing sector in the United States every year,” Ribble added. “We have to persuade the American people that these jobs are noble, decent, and well-paid, and that people should love the men and women who perform them.”
Ribble said the NRCA is working directly with trade and technical schools to increase recruiting, but he also believes government initiatives, like as immigration reform, will help alleviate the labor shortfall.
“An unauthorized immigrant does not benefit our labor or salaries, but a legal immigrant is extremely beneficial to the American economy,” Ribble added. “Comprehensive immigration reform might create a legal pathway for persons who want to immigrate to the United States, and we could benefit from their knowledge and talents.”
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