Shortage of Construction Workers Reported Despite Industry Sluggishness

OSHA Online Training CoursesConstruction is still down 25 percent from its peak before the recession, and there is a 15.7 percent unemployment rate in the construction industry currently. Yet a survey by the National Association of Home Builders of its members found that there is a growing shortage of labor in certain professions within the industry since June 2012. 

For instance, 24 percent of member firms reported a shortage of carpenters for rough work in June 2012. In the current survey, 38 percent of firms report a shortage in that category. In the June 2012 report 71 percent of firms reported no labor shortage. The current survey shows 57 percent of firms saying they have no labor shortage. 23 percent are reporting a shortage of roofers, but only 14 percent reported a lack of roofers last June. Other construction-related occupations where there were shortages were plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, and workers for framing crews, though the highest was in carpentry. 

There are several reasons that account for the lack of qualified workers in certain professions. Because of the length of time the recession has lasted some construction workers stopped waiting for jobs to open up and either moved from certain geographic locations, or looked for work in other occupations. Some skilled workers retired from the labor force as a result of the recession.

Although one to seven percent of firms reported a serious shortage in the twelve occupational categories in the survey, that is still less than during the construction boom in the mid-2000s. Since the housing market demand is slow in its comeback, these shortages should not have a serious negative affect on the industry. However, it may be necessary to recruit and train new workers with the permanent loss of many skilled workers from the job market.

U.S. News chose ten construction jobs which seem to offer the best opportunities currently: cost estimators, construction managers, plumbers, glaziers, cement masons and concrete finishers, painters, brick masons and block masons, electricians, carpenters, and general construction workers. Salaries for these occupations ranged from $34,170 to $93,900 according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries within each occupation vary depending on the location of employment, with some areas paying much higher salaries than others. For example, although the average salary for a general construction worker is $34,170, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers in Boston, Leominster, and Framingham, Massachusetts made at least $53,000 annually in 2011. In the highest paid occupation, construction manager, the average salary is $93,000. However, statistics for 2011 showed that construction managers in New York state, especially in Elmira, Nassau, and New York City received average salaries of at least $135,000.