Some Las Vegas contractors are having trouble hiring workers

Carpenters frame a home at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las Vegas, April 5, 2013.

With construction picking up in Las Vegas, some contractors are having trouble finding qualified workers.

Sean Stewart, executive vice president of the trade group Associated General Contractors of Las Vegas, said most of his group’s members are recruiting regionally because they can’t always find enough qualified workers in Nevada.

They also are poaching workers from other firms, said Stewart, who spoke at a news conference today at the Nevada State Contractors Board offices in Henderson to discuss construction labor shortages.

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said contractors in Nevada “have not been immune from the kind of hiring challenges plaguing firms in many other parts of the country.”

The Las Vegas area had 43,600 construction workers as of September, up 22 percent from two years earlier, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

But employment levels remain far below the boom years, when easy financing spurred a wild upswing in construction. Even in spring 2008, as the market was heading south, the valley had 94,500 construction workers, more than twice today’s levels.

“It’s been a slow recovery here in Las Vegas,” Stewart said.

Some 83 percent of U.S. contractors are having difficulties filling trade-worker positions, while 61 percent are having trouble filling site-management and office jobs, according to a survey released last month by the Associated General Contractors of America.

More than 1,000 construction firms, including eight based in Nevada, took part in the survey. Among the eight Nevada firms, four reported they couldn’t easily find qualified tradesmen.