Construction employment climbs in June, but record number of unfilled positions remain

By Jenny LescohierJuly 19, 2022

Construction employment climbed in June but the number of jobseekers with construction experience plunged to a record low.

According to an analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America, the industry added 13,000 jobs in June. Association officials said the industry would likely have added even more jobs had it not been for the shortage of available workers.

“Although nonresidential contractors were able to add employees in June, the industry needs more as demand for projects is outpacing the supply of workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“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.”

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience tumbled from 7.5% in June 2021 to 3.7% last month, the lowest rate for June in the 23-year history of the data, the economist noted. The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 345,000, or 47%, to 385,000, suggesting there are few experienced

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

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.

Association officials said they were working to attract more people into the construction industry. The association has launched a nationwide targeted digital advertising campaign, Construction is Essential, to identify and recruit new workers, including from segments of the population not typically involved in the industry. And they have launched a workforce retention campaign as well, called Culture of Care.

Still, AGC 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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