Bellan added that more regulations and less worker freedom has it harder to fill open construction jobs.
“The workforce shortage is the most acute challenge facing the construction industry despite sluggish spending growth,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “After accounting for inflation, construction spending has likely fallen over the past 12 months. As outlays from the infrastructure bill increase, construction spending will expand, exacerbating the chasm between supply and demand for labor.”
An added concern is the decline in the number of construction workers ages 25-54, which fell 8% over the past decade. Meanwhile, the share of older workers exiting the workforce soared.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the industry’s average age of retirement is 61, and more than 1 in 5 construction workers are currently older than 55.
“The scarcity of qualified skilled workers is an even more pressing issue,” said Basu. “Since 2011, the number of entry-level construction laborers has increased 72.8%, while the number of total construction workers is up just 24.7%. For reference, the number of electricians was up 23.9% over that span while the number of carpenters actually declined 7.5%. The number of construction managers has increased by just 2.1%.
Basu also notes that more than 40% of construction workforce growth over the past decade is comprised of low-skilled construction laborers, who represent just 19% of the workforce.
“The roughly 650,000 workers needed must quickly acquire specialized skills,” said Basu. “With many industries outside of construction also competing for increasingly scarce labor, the industry must take drastic steps to ensure future workforce demands are met.”
In 2023, the industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, and that’s presuming that construction spending growth slows next year, according to ABC.
Click herefor more information about ABC’s methodology in creating the workforce shortage model.