The Real Deal New York

Construction worker shortage looming?

Unemployment among laborers in the property sector now at six-year low

March 07, 2014 01:48PM

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Workers at a New York City construction site

Workers at a New York City construction site

An influx of contractor jobs and an exodus of skilled laborers from the construction sector has industry leaders worried about a possible shortfall in workers.

The construction industry hired 15,000 new workers nationwide in February, bringing the total contractor workforce in the U.S. to nearly 6 million — the highest volume since 2009, according to new figures from the Associated General Contractors of America. Unemployment in the sector dropped to 12.8 percent last month from 15.7 percent a year earlier. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the sector since 2008, according to the report.

Moreover, demand for workers is expected to climb even higher when projects delayed by harsh winter weather start up again, according to the association’s report. It doesn’t help that many laborers have left for jobs in other lines of work, leaving contractors high and dry, said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in a press release.

“In the past four years, nearly a million experienced workers have left the industry for jobs in other sectors, retirement or school. They are no longer available for immediate recall to construction jobs,” Simonson said in the release. Association officials are now pushing for local, state and federal governments to adopt a plan they put forth to stimulate interest in the sector and establish training programs.  [Press Release] – Angela Hunt

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