Looming Carpenter Shortage to Drive Change in Japan’s Housing Market
According to a forecast published by MLIT, the rate of decline in the total number of carpenters in Japan is expected to accelerate. In the 20 year interval between when the Japanese housing market peaked in the mid-1990s until 2015, the total number of carpenters fell by nearly 60% from 761,822 to 308,758. Over the same time frame housing starts fell 38% from 1.47 million to 909,000 units.
As the average age of carpenters is advancing, a new wave of retirees is expected to drive down the numbers further. At present more than half of carpenters in Japan are aged 50 or over. By 2020 the total number of carpenters is expected to fall by about a third to 211,518. Housing industry analysts advise that this trend will lead to increased consolidation in the housing industry as smaller “Komuten” builders will find it increasingly difficult to secure needed labour versus the established national housing brands and large scale power builders. The changes are also expected to accelerate the trend of pre-cutting, pre-fabrication and assembly of housing components at the factory level.