by Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association
I am like a broken record, and I love saying this: “The construction industry is one of the nation’s largest industries and is a major contributor to the U.S. economy. The construction industry built America, and with the need for new schools, hospitals, housing and other commercial buildings increasing, the industry is going to need more and more quality workers to get all of the work done.”
Right here in Yavapai County we need skilled trade workers, designers, management positions, support staff, and these positions are well-paying construction careers in all areas of the industry.
Unlike many industries, regardless of what construction career you start in, if you pay attention and work hard, the opportunities are endless, and you could end up running your own construction company someday. What is cool about the construction industry is that the industry offers so many choices for a career. Careers in the construction industry are divided into four general categories:
- skilled trades
- administrative and professional support
- design and engineering
… so many job opportunities.
We continually hear the words, “workforce development.” As a broad umbrella those words encompass a wide area that can encourage students in elementary, middle or high school to consider the potential of a career in construction and also prepare young adults for their first jobs in the industry.
Industry recruitment and retention are essential to the future of the construction industry. YCCA and our industry partners are focused on the goal to attract, retain and train the future construction industry workforce.
Forty-two states added construction jobs between June 2018 and June 2019, while construction employment increased in 30 states from May to June, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. This employment data demonstrates the need for works.
“Construction demand remains robust across most states, and contractors continue to add workers when they can find them,” stated chief economist Ken Simonson. “But contractors are struggling to find all the workers they need in many states.”
California added the most construction jobs over the year (40,300 jobs, 4.7%); followed by Texas (39,500 jobs, 5.4%); Florida (25,800 jobs, 4.8%); Arizona (18,200 jobs, 11.6%) and Georgia (12,700 jobs, 6.5%). West Virginia added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months (19.8%, 8,100 jobs); followed by Wyoming (14.1%, 2,800 jobs); Arizona and Alaska (10.3%, 1,600 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in Colorado, Oregon and Texas.
Eight states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (-12,300 jobs, -8.0%). Other states with large job losses include: Massachusetts (-3,400 jobs, -2.1%), Maryland (-2,200 jobs, -1.4%), Connecticut (-1,000 jobs, -1.7%) and Montana (-800 jobs, -2.8%). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include: Montana, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland.
With unemployment rates at historic lows in many states, there is an urgent need for Congress and our local schools to boost funding for career and technical education programs, and we should consider enacting immigration reforms. These measures would make it easier for schools to set up construction-focused programs while immigration reform will allow more people with construction skills to legally enter the country.
The labor shortage is in full bloom, with repercussions being felt throughout the nation, as well as in Yavapai County. As building activity strengthens, the demand for skilled craftsmen will continue to grow. Constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, could our recovery and manageable growth end up tempered by the continued increase of new home prices and delays in projects?
Filling this gap is going to take a concerted effort on all fronts, including encouraging America’s youth to return to the construction industry. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) there are currently 143,000 vacant construction positions nationwide. In fact, a recent survey by the NAHB revealed that 69% of its members were experiencing delays in completing projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers, while other jobs were lost altogether.
The problem is that when the recession hit, many skilled workers unable to find jobs dropped out of the industry and have never returned. Compounding this problem, an entire generation of younger workers is no longer even considering construction as a viable career option. Many high schools have phased out shop classes, and parents increasingly have steered graduates to four-year colleges and white-collar careers. Now, as older workers are retiring, there simply isn’t anyone ready to take their spots.
Overall employment in the construction industry is projected to grow mightily at a faster rate than any other occupation. Job prospects in the construction industry are extremely favorable. Construction ROCKS!
For more information, visit us at ycca.org