Construction workers are hard to find in C. Oregon

From contractors to handymen, demand tops supply

Shortage of construction workers

BEND, Ore. - It is extremely difficult these days to find a contractor or a handyman to do work in houses around Central Oregon.

Andrew Ellis, a Realtor with High Desert Realty, said Tuesday it doesn't matter what the job is, it's hard to find someone to come in and get construction work done.

He said good workers are hard to find, and when he does find them, they get increasingly busy because the demand for their services goes way up.

Ellis added that it can be difficult to get someone to commit to doing a job at all.

"It may take a week or so just to get somebody to call you back, and then it may take the same amount of time just to get somebody out there," Ellis said. "If it's a small job, it can be that much more difficult, because they have other things that they might want to be doing, and they can be a little bit picky."

This isn't something new, either, as the lack of construction workers has been a problem for a while, according to Ellis.

Cameron Scott, the owner of Ollin Construction, has been in the business for the past 25 years and has seen things a lot of changes over that time.

He said the recession forced a lot of people out of construction, and the workforce never bounced back.

"In the '60s and '70s, it was cool to get out of high school and be a framer, it was cool to get into the construction business," Scott said. "Today, it's a little different. Kids are driven by the tech industry, right? And so we don't have a lot of new, an influx, a consistent influx of new labor coming into the marketplace."

Without people being interested in getting their hands hands dirty, Scott said it makes his job tough, and it's hard to find people to get jobs done in a timely fashion.

Scott said it would take a big change in the Central Oregon construction market to get labor force numbers back up.

"I feel like it is going to take something bigger then just a need for labor in construction to bring back a construction labor pool that helps lift places like Bend and other growing market communities out of this labor rut that we are in," Scott said.

Right now, though, Scott said the market in Bend is strong, from new construction to remodels and patch jobs, and the labor force is definitely struggling to keep up with the demand.

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