CONNstruction - Winter 2012 - (Page 11)
Construction Labor Supply
By Jack Leahy CCIA Director of Labor Relations The availability of an ample supply of skilled labor has always been critical to a smoothly functioning construction industry. The cyclical swings and the localized nature of the industry have, traditionally, made it difficult to maintain a balance between supply and demand for labor. In periods of economic expansion, skilled labor is frequently in short supply. In slack times the industry pays a price in workers who leave the industry for better opportunities and the loss of new workers who never enter the construction labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national construction employment peaked in April 2006 at 7,726,000 workers. As of March 2012, construction employment stood at 5,554,000. Over the six years in between 2006 and 20012, 172,000 construction jobs were lost. As of February, construction unemployment was 17.1 percent, down from 27.1 percent in February 2010. However, this improvement is deceiving since it reflects 890,211 workers who have been removed from the construction labor force.
construction workers less than many other occupations, the demographic trends are impacting construction earlier than other industries. Other factors will influence whether construction will be able to attract a sufficient number of new entrants. Productivity gains can moderate the estimates. Training is important, but data indicates training numbers in union sector apprenticeship programs are flat. Over the next several years we will experience a bubble in Baby Boomer workers. This group will be retiring and leaving the labor force. A larger number of new retirees will occur in numbers never seen before, and the construction industry is not immune to this trend. The number of 55 to 64-year-olds in the United States is expected to increase from 11.6 million in 2000 to 18.3 million in 2015. Close to 40 percent of the total growth in the male population will be in this age group. It is in this group that most retirements will occur. While this is happening the number of 18 to 24-year-olds will increase modestly. In 2000 there were 114 18 to 24-year-olds for every 100 males. By 2015 this will decline to 85. Given all this, it is clear that the country is in a period in which labor markets are most impacted by the growing number of workers in their final working years, rather than the stable number of potential new entrants. The outflow from the age pipeline is the dominant characteristic, not the inflow. The potential for strong competition for new labor entrants will remain for a long time to come. The long-term story in the labor force has been the growing participation of women, but this has had minimal impact in construction. The big change in labor force participation for construction crafts has been the inflow of Hispanic workers. The percentage of Hispanic construction craft workers more than doubled from 1993 to 2003 to almost a quarter of all construction craft workers. This trend is likely to increase.
As with other industries, construction will be significantly affected by an increasing number of older workers leaving the labor force. With the working life of construction workers less than many other occupations, the demographic trends are impacting construction earlier than other industries.
The years through 2015 will require large numbers of new entrants into the construction trades. Annual new entrants of craft workers into the construction industry are estimated to be 185,000 persons, with needs almost evenly divided between growth and replacement. As with other industries, construction will be significantly affected by an increasing number of older workers leaving the labor force. With the working life of Meeting the need for new entrants is strongly related to the number of persons being trained. There are an estimated 225,000 people currently being trained in government registered apprenticeship programs. (In Connecticut there are about 4,000 apprentices in construction craft programs). However, since training is a multi-year effort, the annual number of trained new entrants will be substantially less.
CONNstruction / Winter 2012 / 11
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Winter 2012
What it Takes to Produce
‘Green’ Product Enhances State Capitol
Construction Labor Supply
Lean Construction: Continuous Improvement Comes to Construction
Challenges and Opportunities
Better Quality Control
Quality Assurance for Project Produced Construction Materials
AGC of Connecticut Industry Recognition Awards Dinner
2012 Diggers Mixers Fixers Golf Outing
CEUCA 2012 Annual Meeting & Fall Dinner Program
CCIA/AGC of CT Young Contractors Forum
Index to Advertisers
CONNstruction - Winter 2012