POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – In the Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area – one of the fastest growing in the nation – real estate experts say there is a need for more construction workers.

Analysis of Florida data shows there are almost as many building permits as there are people to do the building.

“For 13,000 residential permits, we need more than 14-15,000 construction workers,” said Gary Ralston, partner at SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate, a commercial and land real estate company.

According to Ralston’s analysis, that’s roughly how many construction workers live in Polk County. While the county approved 13,000 building permits last year, Hillsborough County, which is roughly double the size, approved approximately 11,000 permits.

“We do not have enough construction workers in Polk County compared to the surrounding counties and the level of construction,” Ralston said.

According to Ralston, Polk County lost 700 construction jobs from July 2021 to July 2022. Some say the need for more construction workers is causing delays in home construction.

Polk County Builders Association President Shawn McDonough said the industry has not bounced back like others have.

“We didn’t see an uptick in the construction and labor side with people filling those jobs,” he said.

McDonough said other skilled workers, including plumbers and electricians, are in demand as well.

“They’re helping us custom home builders but they’re also helping customers in their existing homes with service calls. It’s the owner of the company in the van driving to that service call when they need five other plumbers to send to five other locations,” McDonough said.