• Fri. Jun 24th, 2022

Contractors forced to pay more for labor. What you need to know if you are planning renovations.

ByLinda W. Smith

May 13, 2022

Chances are you’ll be paid more now than before the COVID-19 explosion, even though high inflation can eat away at your higher paycheck.

Financial experts say that in many industries, the pandemic has certainly forced wages to rise.

“You have to look at trade, transportation and utilities if you want to find wage gains in New Jersey over the last year, adjusted for inflation gains, they’re about 2.6%, but manufacturing jobs also saw wage gains of around 1.7%,” says Caleb Silver of Investopedia. “Private businesses and small businesses that actually produce unique goods – up about 0.7% and construction – very slight gains – were up about 0.2% adjusted for inflation.”

In terms of pay raises and the construction industry in particular, have you recently tried to get quotes to do renovations on your home? Higher quotes can be a tough financial pill to swallow – and now higher quotes are tied to contractors being forced to pay more for labor because they still can’t get work done enough people.

Atif Dukes owns Dukes and Dukes Construction. He says contractors like him are overbooked right now, material costs are rising – and so is the cost of labor to get the job done.

“Yeah. It’s crazy,” Dukes says. “There are so many requests and so little help.”

With house prices soaring, he says many of his clients are making the decision to stay put and renovate their homes instead of moving. As a result, entrepreneurs can hardly meet demand.

“I don’t do masonry, but I went to see a mason and he said he had been away for two years,” Dukes says. “If your house is redone on a large scale, some clients take apartments for an entire year.”

With so much work and fewer workers available, the pay scale is rising, but he can’t afford to let that jeopardize his way of life.

“Because it’s a business we rely on to feed our families and our margins are very low,” Dukes says.

That’s why Atif found a way to offset the higher labor costs.

“Most of the guys I find go to vocational schools, different community programs that try to find younger workers,” Dukes says.

He would like to have as much control over the cost of materials.

“Some landlords don’t understand they don’t understand why the cost can be six months ago you said you were going to charge me $20,000 for a deck, now it’s $40,000 for a deck and they think it’s a scam,” says Dukes.

Economic experts say inflation might actually end up helping business owners like Atif, because it will eventually slow the economy, and workers might basically start to need work more desperately. But Atif does not see how this can be possible.

“I don’t understand this philosophy of lower wages,” Dukes says. ” That does not make sense. I don’t see it right now – I don’t feel it and I don’t see it.

Atif says entrepreneurs who are desperate for workers may end up unknowingly hiring some who say they know how to do a job, but the entrepreneurs will then find out they don’t.

He is talking with organizations about setting up an incentive plan for experienced home improvement workers to take on more jobs.


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