Construction Labor Shortage: Study Finds 430,000 Workers Needed

The construction industry is getting busier every day and needs to hire a lot more workers to keep up.

According to new research from the Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC), the U.S. construction industry will need to add 430,000 new workers to keep up with the increased demand for construction services in 2021.

That estimate is based on data from Markestein Advisors, an economic consulting firm. It projects overall construction spending will increase by 1.3 percent in 2021 to $1.45 trillion. According to the ABC study, every $1 billion in additional construction spending creates an average of 5,700 jobs in the industry.

“An impressive 430,000 more construction workers still need to be hired in 2021 to meet the demand, evidence that the construction industry is powering America’s recovery and economic engine,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO.

The U.S. construction industry has struggled with a skilled labor shortage for much of the last decade as its workforce has gradually aged out and interest in careers in the skilled trades has fallen. Though unemployment rose during the pandemic, it hasn’t sent waves of job seekers into the construction industry. A Marcum JOLTS Analysis suggests that in 2020 construction workers became more expensive and harder to find.

Construction’s labor shortage problem threatens to worsen as homebuilding continues to boom and infrastructure projects increase over the next few years. To support this level of growth, trade associations and industry advocates will need to invest even more time and resources into recruiting the industry’s future workforce — something the ABC clearly intends to do.

“ABC and its contractor members are working tirelessly to recruit, educate and upskill our nation’s future construction workforce, putting our money where our mouth is by investing $1.5 billion annually in workforce development initiatives to equip our craft professionals with durable and transferable skill sets,” Bellaman said.

“Now is the time to consider a career in construction, a vocation that offers competitive wages and ample opportunities to both begin and advance in an industry that builds the places where we work, play, worship, learn and heal.”

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