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The spike in construction demand after the massive damage caused by recent hurricanes has businesses struggling to keep up.

According to the Washington Post, Harvey and Irma alone caused around $200 billion in damage, and construction labor was in short supply even before the hurricanes hit.

Looking back at Katrina, demand for skilled labor like carpentry increased sharply after the storm, enough to bring people from outside the area to New Orleans who were looking for work. That may not be the case after this round of storms.

RELATED: Immigrant labor demand spikes with need for repairs across Houston.


Immigration rules are tighter than they were then, and workforce participation by men, who typically fill construction jobs, is down.

New jobs have opened up in the US, but owners of construction and manufacturing businesses are still having trouble finding skilled laborers who can pass a drug test nationwide, according to the Post.

“There is not a significant surplus of labor ready to re-enter the workforce to take relatively higher paying construction jobs that will be available in Houston and across much of Florida,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm RSM.

Some people in Texas are still waiting for the walls of their homes to dry out, and can’t even start to rebuild yet. Most of the qualified workers have been hired to work in Houston, leaving other areas of southeast Texas like Beaumont low on labor.

Companies in Texas and Florida are bumping up wages to try and attract workers. In some areas like the Florida Keys, debris still has to be cleared away from the company sites and job sites before people can start rebuilding, and its uncertain where the workers are going to come from.

RELATED: Are guest workers the solution to Houston’s labor shortage?

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