Construction jobs increasing but skills gap remains

by Steve Randall26 Mar 2018

The construction industry added jobs in February but a lack of skilled workers remains a challenge.

Year-over-year 35 states and DC increased the number of jobs while 35 states recorded increases month-over-month. California added 74,000, the largest gain (9.8%), more than double second-placed Texas with 33,900 (4.8%).

But an analysis of Labor Dept. data by the Associated General Contractors of America highlights the challenge for the sector.

“The construction industry continues to add employees in most of the nation, despite a shortage of workers with construction experience,” said chief economist Ken Simonson. “But job openings are growing, as contractors encounter a shrinking pool of experienced jobseekers.”

Fourteen states shed jobs in February compared to a year earlier, with North Dakota leading the losses with 4,800, a decline of 16.3%.

“The states with the largest job gains were all recovering from natural disasters, while losses were concentrated in the Plains states,” Simonson commented. “The Plains states have been hurt by a downturn in farm-related income.”

On a month-over-month basis, New York state added the most jobs in February (7,700 or 2%).

Praise for Congress funding bill
The association praised Congress for its approval of funding increases to assist students and others to enter the construction workforce.

“Rebuilding career and technical education programs is essential for helping the economy expand and assure a supply of qualified construction workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The funding bill that Congress approved on Thursday is a good step in that direction.”

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