General contractors face statewide worker shortage

Construction talent pool limited by baby-boomer retirements and millennial disinterest

Feb.February 14, 2016 02:00 PM

A shortage of skilled construction workers is weighing on general contractors and may worsen.

Florida’s construction labor force grew by 28,600 workers last year to 441,700. To keep up with market demand, the state will need a construction labor force of 500,000 workers by 2018, according to the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

A  poll late last year by the Associated General Contractors of America showed that 70 percent of construction companies are struggling to find qualified workers, and 69 percent expect the labor market conditions will remain tight or get worsen this year.

Ken Simonson, chief economist at Associated General Contractors of America, told the Tampa Bay Tribune that “the industry is hiring people at quite a strong clip. But at the same time, contractors are saying they can’t find the folks with the skills they want. They’re having to pull in people from other industries or people that haven’t done it before, which isn’t always something you can make do with.”

After the housing market collapse in the late 2000s, millions of construction workers nationwide lost their jobs and never returned to the building trade.

Further downward pressure on worker availability is coming from the retirement of baby boomers. And the millennial generation shows little interest in construction work. [Tampa Bay Tribune] Mike Seemuth

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