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South Bay Contractors Struggling to Find Construction Workers for Jobs

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- A shortage of construction workers could be slowing down a building boom in the South Bay.

"The labor shortage is basically based on just sheer volume of work. People can't get enough to cover the work that's out there right now," said Harvey Hwang with Tilton Pacific Construction Company.

His company just finished up a Safeway and CVS retail project in San Jose, which was delayed 6 months because of the pandemic.

Hwang says projects that were delayed or put on hold during the pandemic are backing up to new projects just getting started.

That was already driving costs for materials up. Now it appears to be impacting labor costs too.

"Anybody who just wants to get their project done will have to pay a little more to get the workers to their project, because one worker can't go to two or three job sites," Hwang said.

Tradesmen International reported 81% of all construction firms in the U.S. are reporting labor shortages.

Labor Unions are now calling far and wide to supply construction sites with workers.

"We actually had some people come out from LA. When there is a shortage, we reach out beyond our area. We can get people from Canada or anywhere in the United States," said Edmundo Escarcega, who represents the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 393.

The shortage comes at a critical time for the construction industry in San Jose. In the South Bay, there are several major high rise project finishing up or just getting started, plus the massive Google Downtown project which will keep workers busy in coming years.

But for now, developers are expecting the shortage to cause project slowdowns.

"The new projects right now are going to see a delay in delivering their projects. Developers are going to be fighting for contractors and laborers for their work," Hwang said.

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