Texas’ manufactured housing industry continues to face a shortage in labor as supply of skilled labor shrinks for the fifth consecutive month, according to the latest data from the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.

Through the Texas Manufactured Housing Survey, the research center asks manufacturers across Texas month after month how they feel about productivity levels and how supply disruptions are influencing business, the labor supply, labor costs and capital expenditures. Manufactured homes, which are houses built inside manufacturing plants and then transported and sold to retailers or directly to consumers, are typically meant for individuals seeking affordable housing options. These homes are the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States, according to The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, prices for these homes have increased significantly within the last year, said Rob Ripperda, vice president of operations for the Texas Manufactured Housing Association, in a news release from the research center.

“Manufactured-home prices have moved up 20% to 30% since summer 2020, but that increase occurred while material costs like lumber had more than doubled,” Ripperda said. “Price declines will be good for demand and affordability, but uncertainty in supply chains remains a risk.”

Prices for manufactured homes and raw material cost have increased steadily throughout 2021, said Wesley Miller, research associate with Texas Real Estate Research Center, in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper. However, prices for finished manufactured homes and raw materials decreased from summer 2021 through October as the supply-chain smoothened out. Still, manufacturers are quickly losing hope as the supply chain worsens again, Miller said. Manufacturers are expecting the price for raw materials and finished manufactured homes to increase as high as it once was.

“We expect the number of supply chain disruptions to not only accelerate but worsen within the next six months now,” Miller said.

At a time when demand for manufactured homes is unprecedented and supply chain disruptions are adding pressure, chief operating officer of Oak Creek Homes Dwayne Teeter said his company's workers are having to drive to Lowe's and Home Depot to buy raw materials. Sometimes workers have to buy substitute items, such as different types of glass and lumber, to get homes out to retailers and consumers on time, Teeter said.

“We’ve had many close calls,” Teeter said.

Even though the Oak Creek Homes struggled for much of the pandemic, the manufacturer has slowly increased its labor force and production as government aid wanes, Teeter said. However, attracting skilled laborers continues to be a challenge.

In August and September, the labor supply continues to decline, reaching a new low point since June 2020, according to the release. Texas’ labor supply challenges are in line with other national surveys observing the issue, said Harold Hunt, a research economist with the research center.

“The Associated General Contractors of America found that 89% of firms had difficulty hiring hourly skilled positions, and half of owners in the National Federation of Independent Business’ survey reported job openings that they could not fill during the period,” Hunt said in the release.