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AGC: Lack of ‘qualified’ workers still plaguing construction

By |  December 20, 2021

AGC

Only 18 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs since just before the start of the pandemic in February 2020, despite a pickup in most states from October to November, according to a new analysis of federal employment data that the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) conducted.

AGC officials say one reason employment is below pre-pandemic levels in many parts of the U.S. is the lack of available workers to hire.

“Construction activity has picked up in recent months but still has not reached the employment levels of early last year in most of the country during what has become a very tight labor market,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist.

“If contractors had found enough qualified workers, more states would have recovered fully by now from the pandemic-induced job losses,” he adds, noting that job openings at the end of October exceeded the number of workers hired into the industry that month.

State breakdown

Will Congress commit $1 trillion toward infrastructure? Photo: iStock.com/kozmoat98

From October to November, construction employment decreased in 13 states, increased in 36 states and Washington, D.C., and was unchanged in Kansas. Photo: iStock.com/kozmoat98

From February 2020 – the month before the pandemic caused projects to be halted or canceled – to November 2021, construction employment decreased in 32 states and increased in only 18 states and Washington, D.C.

Texas shed the most construction jobs over the period (42,600 jobs, down 5.5 percent), followed by New York (39,700 jobs, down 9.7 percent), California (23,100 jobs, down 2.5 percent) and Louisiana (19,800 jobs, down 14.5 percent). The largest percentage losses were in Louisiana, Wyoming (down 13.1 percent, 3,000 jobs) and New York.

Florida added the most construction jobs since February 2020 (8,700 jobs, up 1.5 percent), followed by Utah (8,200 jobs, up 7.2 percent) and Washington (6,200 jobs, up 2.8 percent). The largest percentage gains were in South Dakota (10.5 percent, up 2,500 jobs), Idaho (8.7 percent, up 4,800 jobs) and Utah.

From October 2021 to November 2021, construction employment decreased in 13 states, increased in 36 states and Washington, D.C., and was unchanged in Kansas. Louisiana lost the most jobs (2,200 jobs, down 1.8 percent), followed by North Carolina (1,900 jobs, down 0.8 percent) and New Jersey (1,800 jobs, down 1.2 percent). Louisiana also had largest percentage decline, followed by Oklahoma (1.5 percent, down 1,200 jobs), New Jersey and North Carolina.

Florida added the most construction jobs between October 2021 and November 2021 (8,200 jobs, up 1.4 percent), followed by Illinois (3,800 jobs, up 1.7 percent) and Texas (3,600 jobs, up 0.5 percent). Montana had the largest percentage gain (2.7 percent, up 800 jobs), followed by Missouri (2.6 percent, up 3,200 jobs) and Vermont (2.1 percent, up 300 jobs).

AGC officials say labor shortages are undermining the construction industry’s ability to fully recover. They urge public officials to boost investments in career and technical education and other programs that expose more people to construction career opportunities.

AGC officials add that the association is working with its chapters and member firms to recruit more – and more diverse – people into the industry.

“It is time to stop giving students the incorrect impression that every good career requires a college degree and takes place in an office of one kind or another,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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