By Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN Business
Matthew Messer hauls solar panels on the roof of a home in Long Island, New York, hoisting them one by one in the 100-degree June heat. Messer is the owner of New York Solar Maintenance, but these days he’s working right alongside his lead technician seven days a week as business booms.
“This is not the perfect way to be spending my time right now,” Messer says of his days spent up on roofs. “But it’s what needs to happen.”
That’s because Messer says he can’t find anyone to hire. His small business has three open roles, ranging from entry level to lead technician — one example of an industry-wide problem as a labor shortage meets increased demand.
New home construction and improvement are surging, thanks to the lack of inventory in a red-hot housing market and more people working from home. In an industry already short on workers before the pandemic, construction businesses will need to hire 430,000 workers this year and 1 million more over the next two years in order to keep up, according to Associated Builders and Contractors.
“The phone is ringing off the hook,” Messer said. “I am expanding as quickly as I can, but right now that’s governed by the amount of skilled technicians I can bring on.”
The construction industry shut down for a few months last year during the pandemic — but was quickly deemed essential, allowing paused projects to continue. But in that short time, the…