NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Despite the pandemic, U.S residential construction spending continues climbing.

A new report from Construction Coverage found that Nashville is spending the second-most on residential construction per construction worker.

The analysis found that in 2020, the Nashville metro area spent approximately $5.2 billion on new residential construction, which amounted to $150,372 per construction worker, almost three times the amount the U.S. spent on new residential construction per construction worker at the national level. 

“You’ve got to remember that there are thousands of apartments being built downtown and there are thousands of townhomes and condominiums that are being built,” David McGowan, President of Regent Homes said. “A lot of these trades needed for that come from the pool we go to ourselves for homebuilding, so there’s a shortage across the board. We knew this shortage was coming four years ago.”

Here’s what else Construction Coverage found for the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, area:

  • New residential construction spending per construction worker: $150,372
  • New residential construction spending: $5,183,315,000
  • Total construction workers: 34,470
  • Relative concentration of construction workers: -16%
  • Median annual wage for construction workers: $52,660

More spending, coupled with a shortage of skilled labor, means we’re seeing far more construction activity per worker, and they’re being compensated for that work.

“We are recruiting people to actually do plumbing work from Kentucky to come here because our wages are higher in Tennessee than they are in Kentucky,” McGowan said. “We’re also recruiting superintendents and other personnel to run the jobs from states of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia to come here in Middle Tennessee.”

McGowan says we’re seeing shortages mainly with plumbers, electricians, mechanical workers and framers.

“Historically, you know, construction is one of the many trades that haven’t been valued going back 20 years,” Charles Schneider with the Home Builders Association of Tennessee said. “The message always has been to put kids through college.”

Go Build Tennessee is working to fix the shortage as they continue to recruit trade workers. Those working with the organization recently applied for a grant from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to help create more programs to get new people involved.

Go Build Tennessee says for every five people who retire from the trades, only one replacement is being trained in apprenticeship programs.

“We need those skilled tradesman that help build the home,” Schneider said. “Supply and demand are key drivers for increased spending costs…the components: land, building materials and skilled labor. They’re all in short supply and we’re trying to meet customer demand.”