Construction employment grew in 61% of 358 metros since August 2015 — the smallest share in more than three years — according to the Associated General Contractors of America. There was no change in 62 metros while employment dropped in 76 areas.
The metros that added the most employees were Denver, Anaheim, CA, and Orlando, FL. Houston, Birmingham, AL, and Louisville, KY, turned in the biggest losses.
- The stalled employment growth is largely due to the fact that contractors are having an increasingly difficult time finding skilled workers, the AGC reported.
Employment increases have taken a relatively small hit, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said in a release, while losses have held steady. Job openings are at a 10-year-high, he said, indicating that the hiring slowdown has more to do with a lack of available workers than a shortage of work.
The AGC is among the industry groups pushing Congress to fund more career and technical education programs to help boost the number of skilled workers for the construction industry. A survey conducted by the AGC during July and August found that seven in 10 construction companies are having a difficult time finding enough qualified workers to meet their needs. The figure is down 10% year over year, but three quarters of those surveyed in 2016 said they anticipated having an even more difficult time finding skilled hourly workers next year. Companies also reported challenges finding enough hourly office workers, as well as salaried field and office personnel.
There has been a push to attract different types of workers into the industry, including military veterans. Organizations like Helmets to Hardhats help veterans find financing for training or apprenticeship programs that pay a salary while they learn a trade. Steamfitters Local 638 Patrick Dolan told Construction Dive in July that finding a new career in construction is a chance for veterans to be "reintegrated into the civilian workforce that offers familiar values of discipline, teamwork and camaraderie."