ABC’s 2022 workforce shortage analysis sends a message loud and clear: “The construction industry desperately needs qualified, skilled craft professionals to build America,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO. The construction companies in Washington responding to the AGC survey, 70% of whom focus on building construction, say the labor shortage is resulting in projects taking longer than anticipated (34%); higher prices on bids or contracts (45%); and overall costs being higher than anticipated (46%). The results mirror the AGC poll results nationally. In 2023, the industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, and that’s presuming that construction spending growth slows next year.
Among the reasons for the construction labor shortage in Washington, and nationwide, according to industry observers and economists, is that many workers exited the construction industry in the wake of the Great Recession and have not returned ― and a strong job market also has made other career options more attractive. An added concern is the decline in the number of construction workers ages 25-54, which fell 8% over the past decade. The industry’s average age of retirement is 61, and more than 1 in 5 construction workers are currently older than 55.
Disruptions in supply chains can seriously impact the ability to maintain schedules. Contractors win and lose jobs based on their ability to be on-site and perform work on set schedules, so being able to order materials or plan staging in a timely manner is paramount. Finding qualified workers in Washington state is a serious challenge, as older workers retire and younger workers fail to enter the skilled trades that contractors depend on.
“The workforce shortage is the most acute challenge facing the construction industry despite sluggish spending growth,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The scarcity of qualified skilled workers is an even more pressing issue,” said Basu. Since 2011, the number of entry-level construction laborers has increased 72.8%, while the number of total construction workers is up just 24.7%.
The construction industry needs more than 61,000 new hires every month if we are to keep up with both industry growth and the loss of workers either through retirement or simply leaving the sector for good," says Brady. "From 2022 through 2024, this total represents a need for an additional 2.2 million new hires for construction. That's a staggering number." Our company has a focus on residential remodeling, home repairs and new home builds as well as home additions in North Pacific County in WA State. We are always on the lookout for skilled carpenters to fill open positions.
The amount of construction related to tech companies and their workers has tapped our region beyond the resources that are available. We are doing a tremendous amount of outreach in terms of recruiting labor and expanding the non-union or merit shop apprenticeship programs around the state to increase the number of potential workers. There has been an increase in outreach to universities and local high schools promoting the trades. The push is particularly strong around Seattle, where construction companies are grappling with limited skilled labor availability and huge project construction backlogs. Apartment construction, in particular, has really taken off in Seattle, in terms of both high-rise and mid-rise infill projects targeting a variety of income ranges. Renewable energy is now mandated as part of a typical apartment project. One of the things we are seeing is a much more rapid evolution of the building codes to create a more sustainable building.
Jumping into a skilled trade can offer numerous career paths with great benefits, whether it’s learning to fabricate metal, welding pipe, electrical schematics, or becoming skilled in technology solutions like AutoCad or Revit. An apprentice is an aspiring trades professional who is registered in an approved apprenticeship program and works for an employer [a qualified Training Agent] to learn a trade. There has been an increase in outreach to universities and local high schools promoting the trades. One of the things we are seeing is a much more rapid evolution of the building codes to create a more sustainable building. Technological advances have created new improvements, ideas, and processes. The construction industry is in need of individuals with a complete knowledge of the practical and technical aspects of their trade.
Now is the time to consider a career in construction. The vocation offers competitive wages and many opportunities to both begin and advance in an industry that builds the places where we work, play, worship, learn and heal.