Another worker shortage compounded by the energy boom could delay construction of $1.3 billion Dallas hospital

Updated Apr 25, 2014

Construction officials with a Dallas area hospital say their project is losing workers and bidders to stiff competition from the oil and gas industry as well as higher paying construction jobs elsewhere in the state.

“Houston and West Texas are taking labor away from many of our projects,” Lou Saksen, senior vice president over the $1.3 billion construction of Parkland Hospital, told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s a very difficult market out there.”

Saksen said even supervisors and engineers that have been working the project for years have been tempted to leave after receiving offers from the oil and gas industry. They were given mid-year pay raises to keep them on staff.

Saksen said while the hospital “had rooms full of people trying to bid our project” back in 2010, recent parts of the project including a pedestrian bridge have attracted little interest, “only a few companies,” the paper reported.

Officials are worried that the troubles will continue as it tries to attract bidders for a biomedical lab and surgical outpatient clinics. And that could cause the entire project to be delayed past the slated completion date some time in August.

Dallas isn’t the only region where construction officials are being frustrated by the oil and gas industry. Contractors in nearby Houston reported losing workers to the Eagle Ford Shale last year due to better pay and there was a shortage in available labor there to begin with.

Similarly, contractors in Louisiana last year faced a heightened short-term need for skilled workers thanks to a boom in petrochemical and chemical plant construction.

In repsonse to the shortage in Houston, two local contractors created their own construction supervisor programs.