‘Few left to hire’ in US as construction jobless rate plummets

The US construction industry added 13,000 jobs in June but would probably have added more had it not been for the shortage of available workers, according to an 8 July analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience tumbled from 7.5% in June last year to 3.7% in June 2022, the lowest rate for June in the 23-year history of the data.

“With industry unemployment at a record low for June and openings at an all-time high for May, it is clear contractors can’t fill all the positions they would like to,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist.

The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 345,000, or 47%, to 385,000, suggesting there are few experienced jobseekers left to hire.

There were 466,000 construction-industry job openings at the end of May, a jump of 130,000 or 39% from a year earlier and the largest May total since that series began in 2000, Simonson added, citing government data.

Total construction employment moved up by 13,000 employees to 7,670,000 in June, as nonresidential gains offset the first decline in residential employment in 14 months.

Nonresidential firms added 16,500 employees, including 600 at general building contractors, 11,400 at nonresidential specialty trade contractors, and 4,500 at heavy and civil engineering construction firms. Employment in residential construction—homebuilders, multifamily general contractors, and residential specialty trade contractors—dipped by 4,100.

AGC officials said they were trying to attract more people into the industry with a national digital advertising campaign, called “Construction is Essential”, and a workforce retention campaign called “Culture of Care”.

However, they urged public officials to also take steps to expose workers to construction career opportunities.

“The industry is working hard to recruit new people into the many high-paying career opportunities that are available,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But too few current and future workers are ever even exposed to construction as a career choice, undermining interest in an industry that everyone sees but too few appreciate.”

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