Manufactured Home Production Increasing Despite Truck Driver Shortage

Production of manufactured homes increased for the sixth straight month and shows no signs of slowing despite worsening bottlenecks in the supply chain and contractions in the pool of skilled labor, according to the latest Texas Manufactured Housing Survey (TMHS).

“A backlog of ships has built up at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach despite efforts to increase container flow,” said Dr. Harold Huint, a research economist at the Texas Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. (TREC).

However, Hunt said the more critical problem is the lack of truck drivers. The American Trucking Association reports a record shortage of drivers, with recent estimates of 80,000 unfilled jobs

TMHS survey respondents unanimously experienced rising raw-material costs, resulting directly from upstream issues.

Manufactured home shipments of completed home deliveries from home production facilities to home purchaser placement sites have lagged behind production with a shortage of truck drivers that continues to exacerbate manufactured home producers.

The manufactured-housing industry struggled similarly on the employment front, with labor-supply contractions occurring during the economic recovery. Manufacturers have expanded payrolls throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but have been forced to raise wages to attract qualified workers, said Hunt.

“Constraints on the supply-chain and labor fronts will transmit into higher prices for finished homes during a period of waning housing affordability,” he said.

“With the median home price in Texas surpassing $300,000 this year, manufactured housing is positioned to provide quality homes well below that price in markets where their placement isn’t restricted by local zoning,” said Rob Ripperda, vice-president of operations for the Texas Manufactured Housing Association. Manufacturers, however, are not immune to the rise in lumber prices that has occurred over the past three months, and with the Department of Commerce announcing the doubling of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber next year, additional price pressure is in store.”

“Demand projections, however, remain favorable, and the manufacturer’s six-month outlook improved after dipping last month, prompting additional plans of investment and capital expenditures,” he said.

Despite all of the ongoing pitfalls, challenges, and inflationary pressures, the manufactured housing industry is expected to deliver more than 100,000 new homes in 2021 for the first time since 2006, according to the U.S Census Bureau.

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