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How A Downturn Can Make CRE’s Talent Shortage Even Worse


Alaxandria Marvar.

The world has changed dramatically in a few short months. Among other things, U.S. unemployment numbers skyrocketed and the unemployment rate has more than doubled its Great Recession peak in 2009. But while commercial real estate’s upward trend of industry growth may have halted along with more or less everything else at the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, there is reason to believe an unmeetable demand for talent is on the horizon.

Reflecting on the last economic downturn, Jeff Wittenberg, managing director of construction and real estate at recruiting firm Kaye/Bassman, said it is possible that not even the growing pool of candidates will spare CRE a talent shortage once the industry begins to recover from the coronavirus.

“If this period is prolonged, I think we’re going to have even more severe shortages than we did in the Great Recession,” Wittenberg said. “I think at the very least we’re going to be dealing with that same proposition again — if not even worse.”

Here are the key reasons why, despite high unemployment 10 years ago, the rebound from 2008 brought an ever-constricting talent shortage to the CRE industry, and why recruiters anticipate the same in the not-too-distant future.

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