- The U.S. construction unemployment rate dropped 0.7% year-over-year in November to 5%, marking the lowest November construction unemployment rate on record, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.
- That rate translated to 191,000 more construction workers in the industry than there were as of November 2016, boosting year-over-year employment in 36 states. The ABC said post-natural disaster construction work and November's good weather contributed to the overall decrease in unemployment.
- Hawaii (2.5%), Idaho (2.9%), Utah (2.9%), Massachusetts (3.1%) and Colorado (3.2%) had the lowest levels of unemployment, while Connecticut (7.7%), Illinois (8%), New Mexico (8.1%), Montana (10.3%) and Alaska (16.3%) had the highest unemployment rates for the month.
In a separate analysis, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported that 40 states added construction jobs from November 2016 to November 2017, with 39 states increasing construction employment month-over-month from October. The AGC said firms have been adding jobs in response to regulatory reforms and in the run-up to tax reform. According to the association, the corporate tax cut, along with other business tax benefits laid out in the final version of the tax reform bill, should prompt hiring to continue.
Just where the industry will find these new workers remains to be seen, given reports of a worsening labor shortage. The AGC and other industry groups have promoted career and vocational training — and the necessary funding — as a way to increase the construction worker pipeline, but the industry largely has been met with disinterest from younger generations.
According to a 2017 survey from the National Association of Home Builders, of the 74% of adults ages 18 to 25 who had chosen a career, only 3% picked one in the construction trades. Of those who were still undecided about a career, 63% said there was either little or no chance that they would choose construction, even if the pay was good. Almost 50% of those respondents said they desired a less physical job, and 32% said construction was too difficult. The vast majority (80%) of those who expressed an interest in construction as a career were driven by the pay, with 74% interested in learning useful skills.