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Give 'Em a Job Already: Business Lobby's Claims of Labor Shortage Untrue, Says New Report

New numbers from the Economic Policy Institute show that the myth of a labor shortage in construction — perpetrated by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — is wholly unfounded.  

Currently, unemployed construction workers outnumber job openings by a seven-to-one ratio.  Overall, construction employment is more than 1.7 million below its pre-recession peak.  While several reputable news organizations such as NPR and the Wall Street Journal have printed the NAHB’s false talking points as fact, simple economic analysis reveals their claims to be impossible.  

If there truly was a labor shortage, wages would rise.  Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that construction wages are both low and stagnant.  In fact, compared to the overall workforce they have been much slower to recover.  As shown in the chart above, real hourly wages of residential construction workers are still 4.2 percent below what they were in 2009.  By comparison, the overall private sector workforce is currently earning 0.9 percent below its 2009 wage level.  

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