Home builders say trades workers are in short supply. Shea Homes reports 22 homes were delayed by three weeks in a development south of Denver, for lack of cabinet installers. Shea is building homes in Highlands Ranch, CO.

Other building trades workers are also hard to find, reflecting a national trend. Friday the U.S. Dept. of Labor reported 288,000 jobs were added in the economy in April, 50% higher than the monthly average for the past year.

As labor supply tightens, wages are on the rise, according to economist Alan Beaulieu, a popular wood industry commentator. Beaulieu spoke at the wood industry Executive Briefing Conference in Colorado last month, then again last week at the WIC 2014 Wood Industry Conference in San Juan, PR.

"Lack of skilled labor is a real issue," Beaulieu said at WIC 2014, with hourly rates rising for those with specialized expertise such as finishing, veneering, or CAD/CAM.

Continued recovery in the construction industry, which hired 32,000 workers in April, or 11% of the total, means that sector has added 124,000 employees during the previous four months.

A manufacturing employment index issued April 1 by the Institute of Supply Management registered 54.7% in April, an increase of 3.6% over March 2014's reading of 51.1%.  representing the 10th consecutive month of growth in employment. Of the 18 manufacturing industries ISM tracks, 15 reported growth in employment in April, with Wood Products in ranking third.

The National Association of Home Builders “Supply constraints related to lots and labor and rising lumber, gypsum and OSB (oriented strand board) prices are hurting the ability of builders to meet demand,” he said. “Moreover, creditworthy borrowers, particularly younger families and first-time home buyers, are having difficulties in getting home loans.”

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