- Construction employment increased in 25 states between July and August, and fell in 24 states and the District of Columbia, with the biggest month-to-month addition of jobs seen in Texas (3,200 jobs), and the biggest percentage rise in Iowa, with a 2.6% increase in jobs, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
- New Mexico, the AGC said, lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July and August (-2,300 jobs, -5.4%), followed by Mississippi (-2,000 jobs, -4.3%) and Michigan (-4,700 jobs, -3%).
- 86% of contractors have reported difficulty in finding qualified hourly and salaried workers, which, the AGC predicted, may be the reason job gains between July and August were lagging. In response, the AGC is urging federal, state and local agencies to take action in an effort to boost the number of those entering the construction industry workforce.
The construction industry continues to struggle with adequately manning the long-awaited surge in construction projects — a major shift for an industry that saw millions of workers laid off and unable to find work just a few years ago during the recession.
Since then, experienced workers have retired from the industry, and the trickle of younger replacements are just not enough to fill the gap.
States like California, Texas, Arkansas, Iowa and Florida have managed to add some jobs in response to increased demand, but the ability to fill skilled worker gap in the future is in doubt if officials at all levels of government don’t mobilize to encourage careers in construction at the secondary and post-secondary levels, according to the AGC.
The association added that there has been a significant trend of young people choosing technology-based careers over technical, and unless officials and educators can convince younger workers to see construction as a viable career option — in addition to providing them with the necessary training and development programs — the continued shortages of skilled workers will continue to impact the industry and the economy.