Construction Employment Increased By 14,000 Jobs in August

The U.S. construction industry filled 14,000 jobs in August, even as companies struggle to find qualified hourly workers.

construction business card hiringShutterstock/ Igor Stevanovic

According to a report from the Associated General Contractors of America, the number of people employed in the construction industry in the U.S. increased by 14,000 in August and by 177,000 over the last year. That marks a 2.4 percent increase, well over the national 1.4 percent increase in total nonfarm payroll employment over that same period.

This report comes on the heels of a survey released by the AGC earlier this month in which 80 percent of construction firms reported that they have struggled to fill hourly positions over the last year. Association officials say that the growth could have been even higher, if not for the current labor shortage.

“Construction employment gains would likely have been higher if firms could find even more people to hire,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Our survey found that 91 percent of respondents said their firms expect to hire in the next 12 months, but overwhelmingly, they are finding most craft positions hard to fill.”

The report also states that average hourly earnings in the construction industry increased 2.7 percent over the last year and are now 9.7 percent higher than the private sector average. One cause of this might be that construction companies are being forced to increase pay and worker benefits in order to successfully recruit from a dwindling pool of qualified candidates.

“Even as firms are raising pay and benefits, doing more in-house training and investing in labor-saving equipment, labor shortages are changing the way many firms bid, schedule and manage their projects,” said Simonson.

In order to work around the construction industry’s labor shortage, construction companies are getting creative, investing in employee training and exploring new technologies that could make projects more efficient. Currently, there are 361,000 unemployed jobseekers in the U.S. who last worked in construction, making the unemployment rate just 3.6 percent.

“Few other jobs in today’s economy pay as well without requiring most workers to pay for a costly college education as do careers in construction,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “Construction firms are doing all they can to address workforce shortages, but it would certainly help if federal officials would boost investments in career and technical education and allow for more individuals with construction skills to legally enter the country as well.”