Plunge in Jobseekers Leaves Construction in the LurchJuly 14th, 2022 by Editor
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says an analysis of federal employment data shows that the construction industry added 13,000 jobs in June as the number of jobseekers with construction experience plunged to a record low for the month. In an assessment issued last week, association officials said the industry would likely have added even more jobs in June had it not been for the shortage of available workers.
“Although nonresidential contractors were able to add employees in June, the industry needs more as demand for projects is outpacing the supply of workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With industry unemployment at a record low for June and openings at an all-time high for May, it is clear contractors can’t fill all the positions they would like to.”
The AGC says the unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience tumbled from 7.5% in June 2021 to 3.7% last month—the lowest rate for June in the 23-year history of the data, economists noted. The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 345,000, or 47%, to 385,000, suggesting there are few experienced jobseekers left to hire.
The data shows that there were 466,000 construction-industry job openings at the end of May, a jump of 130,000 or 39% from a year earlier, and the largest May total since that series began in 2000, Simonson added, citing government data released Wednesday.
Total construction employment moved up by 13,000 employees to 7,670,000 in June, as nonresidential gains offset the first decline in residential employment in 14 months. Nonresidential firms added 16,500 employees, including 600 at general building contractors, 11,400 at nonresidential specialty trade contractors, and 4,500 at heavy and civil engineering construction firms. Employment in residential construction—including homebuilders, multifamily general contractors, and residential specialty trade contractors—dipped by 4,100.
Association officials said they were working to attract more people into the construction industry. The association has launched a nationwide digital advertising campaign, dubbed “Construction is Essential,” to identify and recruit new workers, including from segments of the population not typically involved in the industry. They also launched a workforce retention campaign, called “Culture of Care,” at the same time urging public officials to take steps to expose workers to career opportunities in construction.
“The industry is working hard to recruit new people into the many high-paying career opportunities that are available,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “But too few current and future workers are ever even exposed to construction as a career choice, undermining interest in an industry that everyone sees but too few appreciate.”
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