San Jose

Construction Boom Equals Labor Shortage in South Bay

A construction boom in the South Bay may mean growth for the region as a whole, but for some residents, it could mean growing pains.

Those who live in the South Bay and were thinking about doing some home renovations likely will be forced to wait longer and pay a higher price for their projects.

And with Google coming to San Jose, the problem is expected to get worse.

Construction cranes are becoming a common sight in downtown San Jose as more high-rise housing is going up. In fact, there's so much building happening in the area that some workers are being brought in from as far away as Texas, lured by big jobs and bigger paychecks.

Josue Garcia monitors the trends as head of the local Building and Trades Council, and he knows it’s not just the big projects that are becoming more common. In San Jose alone, the city says building permit requests for remodels and home additions have jumped from almost 3,600 in 2015 to more than 4,000 last year.

"Things are getting better and better every year," Garcia said.

The permits division is where Chris Coan of A-1 Construction spends a lot of his time. His company is applying for permits to rebuild a carport. But finding the right workers to do the job has been challenge with all the other projects around the city.

"It’s a lack of good manpower," he said. "There’d a lot of people out there that are laborers and say they know what they’re doing. But all the good manpower is taken."

There’s seemingly no end in sight to the building bonanza in the South Bay, especially after Google announced plans for a new campus near downtown.

Garcia says workers will be needed for both the campus itself and all the housing and hotels expected to follow.

All that means homeowners will likely have to wait a lot longer for smaller projects like home remodels as workers opt for the bigger, higher paying jobs.

"You may have to wait a few months because of the labor shortage," Garcia said. "Qualified labor shortage. There’s plenty of people who want to work with no experience."

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