- In an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics construction industry workforce data, the Associated General Contractors of America reported that construction employment increased in 256 out of 358 U.S. metropolitan areas from April 2017 to April 2018, with an all-time employment high recorded in 54 metros. Employment decreased in 63 metros and remained stagnant in 39.
- The Dallas area added the most jobs — 12,400 — a 9% increase, followed by the Houston area, where construction employment increased by 12,200 positions, a 6% increase. Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts likely contributed to Houston's employment increase. St. Louis posted the biggest jobs loss for the 12-month period ending April 2018, a 5% decline for a total 3,100 jobs.
- Construction companies nationwide have been able to steadily add workers to their payrolls despite the widespread worry about a skilled labor shortage, AGC said. Nevertheless, the association added that the lack of qualified potential employees could hinder the industry's future growth unless federal and local officials take steps to increase the number of workers through career education and vocational training programs.
Construction employment has yet to hit pre-recession highs but is inching closer every month. However, skilled baby boomers who have been a driving force in the industry are retiring. Plus, construction lost a huge number of disillusioned workers during the Great Recession, and millennials have a reported distaste for the physical exertion they perceive to be an inescapable part of a construction career.
So, contractors need to reconsider who and how they recruit workers. Women have made great strides in administrative and management positions in the construction industry, but their numbers in the trades are still low. Increased wages should help bring in more women (and men, too), but jobsite culture needs to change as well.
For example, in April, a female apprentice carpenter sued her employer for gender bias that she alleged cost her money and her job. She claimed that she was subjected to harassment from co-workers and field supervisors and was not given the same opportunity for overtime work or training.
The construction industry may also benefit from welcoming more workers from minority groups. Immigrant workers aside, the percentage of African Americans in the construction industry is very low compared with their white counterparts. In New York City alone in 2016, the number of white male workers in construction increased to 40%, while those who identify as black made up just 9% of the workforce.