Sept. 6 2018 10:42 AM

Utah landscape companies have plenty of work, but few workers.


Landscape workers in Utah can have pretty much any job they want, according to a story reported by KUTV and published on its website.

The situation is great for workers, but bad for the people who hire them. A booming economy has companies scheduling projects a year in advance. but there’s no guarantee there’ll be enough people to complete them.

“Without the supply, the costs are going to go up,” says Terraworks Landscaping owner Paul Sannar.

The supply he’s referring to is labor. It’s a familiar story, one that’s repeated many times all over the country. Sannar and many other landscape company owners say they can’t find people to work on their projects.

They’ve been forced to forget about hiring the best, most qualified individuals. “If you can stand up, you’re pretty much hired,” Sannar says.

The broken H2B visa program is another component of the green industry’s labor crisis. This year, for the first time in 14 years, Terraworks didn’t get the guest workers it requested under the program, which allows seasonal workers to come to the United States to work and then return to their country of origin.

There are only a limited number of visas available and many companies want them.

“We have to have somebody to do it, and that’s where the guest worker program is beneficial,” Sannar says.

Other companies are feeling the effects of the labor shortage too, which experts say is a result of a low unemployment rate.

“There are certain industries that say, ‘Hey, I don’t care for this environment, it makes it hard for me to do business and operate,'” says Mark Knold, a senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

The labor shortage will likely result in price hikes and longer waits for consumers.

“Even if they do find some workers, there’s probably someone whispering in their ear, saying 'Hey, I have a better job at a higher wage over here,'” Knold says.