Contractors struggle to fill open jobs in Phoenix

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix metro area is seeing an upswing in construction, and some contractors say they cannot fill their open positions.

"To hire someone right now, you have to offer them more money to draw them away from another company," construction supervisor Jim Castaneda told 3TV from a work site near 16th Street and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix.

Phoenix lost nearly half of its construction jobs during the recession, but the industry is rebounding.

The Associated General Contractors of America organization reports Phoenix added 8,400 construction jobs this year.

Their report says 97,000 people are working construction in the Phoenix area this summer, an increase of 9 percent over last summer.  That's the third largest percentage jump of any metro area in the country.

"People are having trouble filling positions because everybody left. When it got bad, the work force had to pack up and leave and go somewhere else," Castaneda said, adding that many workers returned to Mexico.

"So we're looking for plumbers, electricians, drywallers, and painters," he said.

"There was the impression that there weren't those construction jobs available. Now there are, but not the skilled labor to fill those jobs," CJ Wurster, the director of the Maricopa Skill Center, part of Maricopa Community College, told 3TV.

The Skill Center's graduates are being hired quickly, after their four-to-eight months of training.   Their programs are hands-on, for electricians, framers, plumbers, and other skilled tradesmen.

Castaneda says a journeyman construction worker can make $16 to $23 per hour in Phoenix.

For information on the Skill Center, visit