Skills shortage in US worsens

By Lewis Tyler08 April 2022

Employment in the US construction sector has seen increases in nearly three-fifths of metro areas according to new data released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) but contractors still aren’t able to hire as many workers as they want. 

The AGC logo

The association is urging officials to increase investment in career training and education programmes within the construction sector to help employ more workers.

The analysis, which focuses on the period from February 2020 to February 2022, revealed that there were 364,000 job openings in construction at the end of February, the most since data started to be compiled in 2001.

However, Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, revealed that this exceeded the 342,000 workers hired by construction firms, which “implies contractors wanted to hire twice as many employees as they were able to.”

Simonson said, “The rebound in construction employment in most metros shows there is robust demand for infrastructure and non-residential buildings, as well as housing. But contractors in many areas say they would hire even more workers if there were enough qualified candidates.”

The data has shown that Salt Lake City, Utah added the most construction jobs (5,100 jobs, 11%, followed by Jacksonville, Florida (4,800 jobs, 10%). Walla Walla, Washington had the highest percentage gain (36%, 400 jobs), followed by Decatur, Ill. (32%, 900 jobs).

Despite the increase, 40 areas have seen construction employment decline, with New York City (-25,500 or -16%), Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-23,400 jobs, -10%) and Baton Rouge, La. (-6,800 jobs, -14%) losing the most jobs.

Through the ‘Construction is Essential’ targeted digital advertising campaign and the ‘Culture of Care’ programme that it designed to help firms retain new workers, the association are looking to recruit more people into the industry.

Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer said, “Career and technical education teaches essential skills and exposes a broader range of people to the many career opportunities available in construction.

“Helping encourage more people to pursue high-paying construction careers will keep America building and contribute to broader economic growth.”

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