- Construction staffing has nearly climbed out of the pandemic-induced hole. In February, construction reached 99% of pre COVID-19 numbers, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.
- Contractors added 60,000 new employees last month, Associated Builders and Contractors reported, boosting total employment in the industry to 7.6 million. That's the highest staffing level since COVID-19 drove one million workers off site in April 2020.
- The industry's unemployment rate of 6.7% is still significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 3.8%. It's no secret: builders have many harnesses to fill.
Many economic issues caused or worsened by COVID-19 have abated, and will continue to fade, according to ABC's Chief Economist Anirban Basu.
"Evidence indicates that contractors have had a somewhat easier time filling available positions recently," Basu said in a statement. "There are also indications that supply chain issues have improved slightly, though the Ukraine/Russia war may create new issues on that front. With demand strong and the supply side of the economy in repair, 2022 is setting up to be a strong year for contractors."
Nevertheless, despite strong job numbers, ABC's estimates contractors need to hire 650,000 additional workers.
Now two years into the pandemic, builders have seen construction starts continue to rise, confidence and backlogs grow and federal infrastructure funds on the horizon.
"But there remain many reasons for concern," Basu cautioned.
Continued inflation and rising gas prices will mean contractors need to be careful about the projects they select.
"Elevated oil and other prices are also driving the cost of delivering construction services higher," he said, "which could result in the postponement or cancellation of some projects."