Construction Dilemmas

May 2017

Thirty-nine states added construction jobs between March 2016 and March 2017 while 17 states added construction jobs between February and March, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released today. Association officials noted that contractors in most states remain busy for now but worry about not being able to find enough workers to complete projects in the future.

California had the highest increase in construction jobs with 42,000 jobs added in the past year, followed by Florida with 36,500 jobs and Texas with 18,900 construction positions.

Construction jobs are projected to increase 6.5% by 2024 according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics due to an increase in residential and non-residential construction. The demand for single-family housing and multi-family housing has greatly increased due to a lack of inventory of available homes.

During March 2017, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there was a 5.8% increase of new home sales over February 2017. This was also a 15.6% increase over March 2016 estimates. This represents a supply of 5.2 months at the current sales rate.

While construction has continued to expand, the industry is now hitting a wall. The lack of skilled tradesmen has been sharply felt within the past few years. Most contractors are quoting longer completion times or passing up opportunities to big on new projects as a way of coping with shortages of available qualified workers.

According the study “Young Adults & the Construction Trades” by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) only 3% of individuals between the ages of 18-25 want to work in construction trades and 26% of individuals said they were uncertain of career paths. Of those 26% of respondents, only 18% said they would consider the construction industry if the pay was high enough. While 68% of the uncertain respondents would not consider the construction industry even if the pay was satisfactory said that the jobs were too physically demanding or that construction work was difficult.

The lack of skilled tradesmen have led to government intervention. North Idaho College has been awarded a $482,582 grant by the Idaho Department of Labor to train more than 200 workers in the wood products manufacturing industry and Michigan lawmakers have passed a budget that would offer increased funding for skilled trades.

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