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News » US » Construction employment rises but labor shortages bite » published 10 Sep 2018

Construction employment rises but labor shortages bite

Construction employment rose by 23,000 jobs in August - and by 297,000 over the past year – but labor shortages are preventing firms from hiring more workers, according to a new analysis.

Officials of Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) are urging Federal leaders to double spending on career and technical education, reform immigration and improve job training programs to help address workforce shortages affecting most firms.

Construction employment has reached a 10-year high, while the industry's unemployment rate stood at an all-time low, according to the analysis of new government data by the AGC. Even as firms continued to expand, most firms are struggling to find enough workers to keep up with demand, said AGC.

"The construction industry continues to add workers and increase pay at greater rates than the economy as a whole, with job gains spread across both residential and non-residential construction," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "But contractors report widespread difficulty in finding qualified workers for both salaried and hourly craft positions."

Construction employment totaled 7,259,000 in August, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.3% over the past 12 months. Simonson pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6% rise in total non-farm payroll employment. Employment in residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—grew by 12,900 jobs in August and added 136,600 jobs over the past 12 months, a 5.1% increase. Employment in non-residential construction—including building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction—grew by 9,600 jobs in August and increased by 160,500 during the past year, a 3.8% increase.

The association also released a new Workforce Development Plan, which calls on federal officials to double funding for career and technical education programs over the next five years, reform immigration and improve federal workforce training programs. The plan also outlines steps the association is taking to recruit more people into the industry.

"There is little doubt that construction firms would have added even more new workers if the pool of available, qualified workers was larger," said Stephen  Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "By making a few common-sense changes to our current education and workforce training approach, federal officials can help place significantly more people into high-paying construction careers."


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This article was published on 10 Sep 2018 (last updated on 17 Sep 2018).

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