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News June 14, 2022

Construction industry attempts to attract workers with higher wages

An analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America shows rising hourly wages attracted more workers to construction in May, but the industry still posted a record number of job openings to start the month, according to

About 36,000 new employees started construction jobs in May, but that is a small portion of the 494,000 construction workers needed at the end of April. The increase in job openings represented the largest total since recording the data began in 2000.

AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said for hourly workers in the trades, pay rose in May by 6.3% year over year—the highest increase since December 1982. However, earnings in the overall private sector rose 6.5%, which could make the search for workers more challenging for the construction industry.

The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 39% to 392,000, which Simonson said could indicate there are fewer experienced jobseekers for builders to hire.

“I think the implications are that contractors would have hired far more workers in April—perhaps twice as many—as they were able to,” Simonson said. “The same patterns of record or near-record openings and of openings exceeding monthly hires has prevailed for the past several months but never or seldom had happened before. This indicates construction employment is being held down not by lack of demand but lack of supply of qualified and willing candidates.”

Construction employers often cannot offer the flexible hours or remote work other industries have implemented, and Simonson said the likely solution to the labor shortage is contractors will need to increase pay even more to attract workers.


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