Construction employment now exceeds pre-pandemic levels

April 5, 2022

Construction employment added 19,000 jobs on net in March and now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, according to After 23 months, the industry has recovered all of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the pandemic.

The construction unemployment rate fell from 6.7% in February to 6% in March. The national unemployment rate for all industries decreased from 3.8% in February to 3.6% in March as the U.S. economy added 431,000 jobs.

Nonresidential construction added 11,300 jobs in March, with all three subcategories registering gains for the month. Heavy and civil engineering added 5,000 jobs; nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 3,700 jobs; and nonresidential building added 2,600 jobs.

“Contractors continue to signal that they are searching far and wide for additional workers,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “With more workers reentering the labor market, job openings continue to translate into employment growth. Given elevated backlog and the expectation that demand for services will remain high, according to ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator, construction employment is poised to grow further this year.

“Interestingly, the unemployment rate for construction workers is well above the economywide rate,” Basu continued. “This is at odds with the notion of a severe worker shortage facing construction. The issue relates to skill sets. While many refer to the current circumstances as a labor or worker shortage, it is perhaps more properly characterized as a skills shortage.

Basu said skills shortages are likely to worsen as infrastructure spending rises and construction workers retire at a fast pace.

“That translates into rapid wage growth,” Basu said. “Given high and rising materials prices, project owners will continue to see elevated bids for construction service delivery, although how this will affect project postponements and cancellations remains unclear.”

Tags: Workforce | Trends


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