The construction industry currently employs over 6.7 million laborers including roofers, siders, and framers. From coast to coast these skilled workers are in high demand as our country’s construction industry continues to show heavy growth. As usual, there are winners and losers among the 50 states. Here is a look at the best and worst places to call home if you are a construction worker…
The Top Five
The states with the lowest estimated non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates (most recent month Feb 2017)
1. Utah 5.3%
2. Colorado 5.8%
3. Hawaii and Idaho 5.9%
5. Nebraska 6.0%
The Bottom Five
The states with the highest estimated non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates (most recent month Feb 2017)
46. Pennsylvania 13.1%
47. West Virginia 13.6%
48. New Mexico 15.0%
49. Rhode Island 16.4%
50. Alaska 16.6%
The Great Recession knocked 2.3 million construction workers from its ranks. Employment is still 30% below the peak in 2006. Several factors are contributing to labor shortages, however aging out is not one of them. Compared to other industries, the construction industry is in good shape from an age-of-worker perspective. The average worker is 44.5 years old with just over half (50.4%) the workforce is older than 45. For comparison sake, the average US postal worker is 52 years old and 72% of the workforce is over 45.
The US Census Bureau publishes Job-2-Job flow and the results were highlighted in 2015 Wall Street Journal article. Some of the high points:
• About 40% stayed in construction, either returning to their former employer or landing with a new one.
• About one-third switched to another industry, but only after sitting on the sidelines for more than a year. Typical destinations included work as general laborers, landscapers and truck drivers.
• Contrary to conventional wisdom, few headed off to the booming oil and gas industry. The mining sector–which includes oil and gas extraction–accounted for less than 5% of new jobs for former construction workers heading back into the labor market.
• And about one-quarter of displaced construction workers were still out of work five to seven years after they lost their jobs.
Surviving without labor
There are numerous ways to turn labor pain into profitable gain.
- Products – Time and material saving products such as the XT Post, a load bearing porch and deck column that is treated, comb finished and paint ready upon installation.
- Modular – The US lags far behind Sweden, Germany and Japan in the use of pre-fabricated residential construction. Modular homes are factory-built and take much less on-site labor than stick built homes.
- Virtual Layups – Setting up repeatable tasks using computer layout and labeling for the field utilizes non-skilled labor to supplement the on-site skilled worker.