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Oil bust helps Florida contractors

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  • | 11:15 a.m. May 22, 2015
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The sudden collapse of oil prices has done more than cut fuel costs: It's also helping to reduce Florida's labor shortage in the construction trades.

That's good news for Florida contractors who don't want to miss out on work because of a lack of qualified employees. When the real estate recession hit Florida in the last decade, construction workers left the state in droves. They headed to places like the oil fields of North Dakota and Texas in search of work.

But with the recent steep drop in oil prices, some drilling companies have laid off those workers. Many of them are packing up and heading back to Florida, to get in on the construction industry recovery.

For example, Bonita Springs-based developer and homebuilder WCI Communities says subcontractors that had trouble finding labor two years ago have found the market much easier today. That's in part because of problems in the oil sector.

WCI President and CEO Keith Bass discussed this shift during a recent earnings call, where he cited the oil industry's woes as one reason there has not been any delays in building residential communities. Bass was speaking in response to investor inquiries, according a transcript posted on

“I think if anything because of the strength of the market right now and the growth is being fairly measured, that the subs are rebuilding their businesses and getting the back offices that they need, they're making money and starting to hire and train people,” Bass says.


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