It's a good day to be a plumber in Texas. In the wake of last week's freezing temperatures, demand for plumbing professionals is high, and the supply is low. If you are a plumber in Texas or the surrounding states, you can be sure of a full calendar; and for those of us in need of a plumber, we can be sure of extended wait times.
The unusual, but not unprecedented, recent winter storm shook Texas infrastructure foundations and left millions of Texans without electricity first and potable water second. While we await blame to be assigned, many of us are left with the inevitable aftermath of the devastation: undrinkable water, broken water pipes, water damage from the broken pipes, and the financial burden of paying unexpected insurance deductibles in the midst of a financially crippling, for some, pandemic.
What has caused the shortage of plumbers in Texas and across the United States? The answer isn't so straight forward, but we can more closely examine a handful of the different causes:
- Dirty jobs are less desirable, and we indoctrinate our public school attendees to believe that college is the (only) way to a better life: better jobs + better pay = better life. Mike Rowe, former host of "Dirty Jobs," talks about the fallacies and dangers of giving and following "cookie-cutter" advice to high school students and the impact it has had on the labor market. You can read the full article here.
- The 39 page Texas "Plumbing License Law." Yikes. Before you get your plumbing license, be sure to have a Juris Doctorate. The Licensing Board and law relating to State Licensing, while set to expire on September 1, 2019, were circumvented by Governor Abbott who issued an Executive Order on June 13, 2019, suspending the abolishment of licensing regulations, will remain in effect until May 31, 2021.
- On top of the State regulations that prevent capable, able-bodied tradespeople from performing the services we need, cities and municipalities have additional limitations. For example, there is a regulation denying experienced apprentices to work on a job site without a licensed plumber present.
Texas has a critical shortage of plumbers. The demand for these professionals was high before the recent winter storms and will continue well into the future without changing the current legislative environment. The burdensome fees and exorbitant requirements to hold a plumbers license in the state of Texas discourage competition by limiting entry into the field. The regulations impose themselves by the threat of force into an equation that is punitive to tradespeople and unnecessary as insurance companies require their standards. Eliminate the stigma on "dirty jobs," remove barriers to entry into this career field, and reduce the government's unnecessary involvement. Until then, Texans can expect to wait for clean water, repaired pipes, and to pay top dollar for plumbing services.