For the last several years the labor shortage and its effect on speed and project completion within the construction industry have been widely discussed — with good reason. The industry’s need to refill its ranks after the Great Recession has made the labor market extremely competitive, driving up wages and forcing some companies to slow their operations until they can satisfy staffing needs. The 2019 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report suggests two-thirds of contractors expect to have a hard time filling positions this year. However, now is also a good time to take a step back and see where the industry is thriving and appreciate what we’ve been doing right.
There’s been a push in better recruitment efforts towards a younger workforce as well as a new focus on providing more apprenticeship programs — like the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs’ Careers in Construction — for students seeking alternative paths to college. These programs are setting the stage for new workers to soon fill in the gaps.
Although this is just a starting point and there’s more work to do, there are already positives we can see. According to ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu, “the average nonresidential contractor has been able to keep profit margins stable, with a significant proportion able to increase margins slightly.”
In fact, 2019 has actually seen a rise in both business and employment rates. As an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, not only has the unemployment rate in the industry decreased, down 1.2% from the same time last year, the industry has actually added 4,000 new net jobs in May alone — and it’s still expanding.
So while we may tend to only see the bad, we’re actually remaining strong. We’re adapting, not only recognizing the problem at hand, but working towards new ways to fix it.