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Plumber, skilled laborer shortage means Sioux Falls squeeze

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- There's a squeeze happening in Sioux Falls created by a shortage of plumbers and other skilled laborers. The shortage is leading to more work than can be handled by workers, as well as higher costs and longer wait times for ho...

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - There's a squeeze happening in Sioux Falls created by a shortage of plumbers and other skilled laborers.

The shortage is leading to more work than can be handled by workers, as well as higher costs and longer wait times for home construction, the Argus Leader reported. It also means a boost in wages as employers compete for a limited number of candidates.

Tom Hines, Frisbees general manager, said his company has struggled to replace retired plumbers in the last five years with experienced newcomers. The company has had to turn down projects because of a lack of workers.

Chuck Point, vice president at Ronning Companies, said that in a growing city, a bottleneck in completing a job can happen with waiting for a plumber.

"You're having growth," Point said. "How do you get everything done that everybody wants done at the time that they want it done?"

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Hines said builders have plenty of work with growth taking place. But in keeping up with demand, he said there are only so many plumbers and other workers.

"We have a terrible shortage in all of our skilled labor trades," Hines said. "Most builders will tell you that it's the subcontractors in Sioux Falls that are dictating how much is getting done."

A yearlong training program for aspiring plumbers has been started by Southeast Technical Institute in response to a shortage. But Southeast Technical Institute President Jeff Holcomb said 10 aspiring plumbers are signed up this year for 24 openings.

"There's a lot of capacity in plumbing, it's just that finding those students is a real challenge," Holcomb said.

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