Steel Markets

Worker Shortage Sees Construction Add Just 1,000 Jobs in Oct: AGC

Written by David Schollaert

The construction industry added just 1,000 employees in October as firms competed to hire from a small labor pool, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported after analysis of new government data.

The dynamic has continued to drive hourly wages higher, illustrating the struggle construction firms face in their search for qualified workers, the AGC said.

construction2“The construction sector would likely have added more jobs in October if only firms could find people to bring on board,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “Labor market conditions are so tight, however, that the sector barely increased in size even as demand remains strong for many types of construction projects.”

Total construction employment moved up by a mere 1,000 employees to 7,721,000 last month, an increase of just 266,000, or 3.6%, from a year earlier. Nonresidential and residential building firms alike added just 3,200 employees for the month. Those gains, however, were offset by job losses among specialty trade contractors (4,000 fewer jobs) and heavy and civil construction firms (400 less).

The average hourly earnings in construction rose to $35.27 last month, a 5.6% increase from $33.41 a year ago. The increase is higher than the 4.7% gain in total private sector earnings for the year, the report said.

Average weekly earnings in the sector also increased from $1,296.31 in October 2021 to $1,372.00 last month.

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience increased marginally year-on-year (YoY), from 4% in October 2021 to 4.1% last month. The number of unemployed construction workers went from 398,000 to 419,000 over the same period.

AGC again urged the Biden administration and Congress to address construction workforce shortages. The association has suggested the lawful inclusion of foreign construction workers to provide short-term relief. Longer term, it wants DC to address a funding gap “that puts $5 federal dollars into college-focused education programs for every dollar invested in career and technical education.”

“Washington officials are making historic investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, and the energy sector,” said Sandherr. “But as much as they want to see new things getting built, they have not been willing to invest in ways to encourage more people to do all that construction.”

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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