An Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis showed construction wages on the rise, which seems to be attracting workers to return to the industry. The organization cautioned, however, that labor conditions still remain extremely tight.
“Many firms are boosting pay and taking other steps to compete for a relatively small pool of available, qualified workers to hire,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s Chief Executive Officer. “While these measures appear to be luring construction workers back to the job market, firms report they would hire additional workers if they could find enough qualified candidates.”
Highest levels in past decade
Data from April 2018 showed construction employment totaled 7,174,000, a gain of 17,000 for the month and 257,000, or 3.7 percent, throughout the last 12 months. Construction employment is at the highest level since June 2008. Association officials note that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than triple the 1.1 percent rise in the total nonfarm payroll employment.
Hourly wages in the industry averaged $29.63 in April, an increase of 3.5 percent from a year earlier. That put the average hourly earnings in construction 10.4 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.6 percent in the past year to $26.84, Sandherr added.
Construction officials urged federal, state and local leaders to take steps to make it easier for schools, construction firms and local associations to develop and offer construction-focused programs to recruit and prepare future workers. They noted that such measures would signal greater numbers of students that there are multiple paths to success in life.
“It is time to start showing young adults that high-paying careers in construction should be on the list of professions to consider,” Sandherr said. “Too many students amass a mountain of college debt just to earn mediocre wages working in a fluorescent-lit cube farm.”