Construction workers walking
As demand for construction workers increases, the pool of skilled workers is smaller than it was last year at this time.
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Survey indicates 91 percent of contractors have trouble filling jobs

As non-residential construction spending grows, workforce challenges remain as the AGC calls for public spending on training and awareness of the benefits of a career in construction.

September 13, 2022

Construction firms added 16,000 jobs in August, according to an analysis of federal employment data recently released by the Arlington, Virginia-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience fell from 4.6 percent in August 2021 to 3.9 percent in August 2022 month, Simonson noted. He said the low unemployment rate is consistent with the association’s recent survey, which found that 93 percent of responding firms had open positions. Of those firms, 91 percent report having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, Simonson added.

Association officials say their newly released survey, conducted with Autodesk, indicates contractors are eager to hire more employees but are being stymied by a dearth of qualified workers.

“Nonresidential construction activity is growing, but contractors universally report difficulty hiring as many workers as they need,” AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson says. “With the industry unemployment rate hovering below 4 percent, finding qualified applicants is sure to remain a major challenge.”

Association officials say one of the main causes of workforce shortages is the fact few people are being exposed to the opportunities available in construction and lack basic, essential skills. Seventy-seven percent of contractors report there are few workers available who meet the minimum qualification standards, including being able to pass a drug test, which insurance companies require for all workers in the industry.

“Public officials need to boost funding for construction-focused training programs to expose more workers to the opportunities that exist in the industry,” Simonson adds. “The industry has the work; it just needs the workers.”

Total construction employment climbed to more than 7.7 million in August as both residential and nonresidential construction firms added jobs for the month. Nonresidential firms added 4,300 employees, as gains of 700 jobs at general building contractors and 5,600 at nonresidential specialty trade contractors offset a loss of 2,000 jobs at heavy and civil engineering construction firms. Employment in residential construction—homebuilders, multifamily general contractors, and residential specialty trade contractors—increased by 10,900 in August.

Compared to August 2021, the construction industry has added 311,000 jobs, an increase of 4.2 percent. The nonresidential sector added 191,600 of those yearly job gains, an increase of 4.4 percent. Meanwhile, residential construction firms added 118,700 jobs between August 2021 and August 2022, an increase of 4.0 percent.

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