Across the country, industries are dealing with both high unemployment numbers and a labor shortage, specifically for low-wage and hourly positions. In fact, some studies estimate that, at the peak of covid, the construction industry was short around one million workers in all positions. While much of this labor shortage has been recouped, there are still more than 200,000 open positions – and a slew of companies fighting overqualified talent.

Business is booming as individuals are still working from home and looking to get work done on their residences; others are making additions or repairs thanks to extra money from stimulus checks. Many of the projects put on hold over the past year and a half because of the global pandemic are beginning to pick up again. Now, construction companies are stating that they now have more demand for their services than ever but are having trouble keeping up and actually getting the job done.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the reasons underlying this trend. By understanding the why, we can start to work toward solutions that can counteract this trend.

Unemployment benefits

There is a direct correlation between the increase in unemployment benefits and a decrease in job applications. Essentially, many may opt to continue to receive monetary help without actually putting in the work. To some extent, this is just a waiting game. At some point, these benefits will run out, and people will have no choice but to return to work. Until then, you can focus on offering higher hourly wages and potentially working with a recruitment agency to help identify and secure qualified help.

Lack of shop classes

Some of the reasons for the labor crisis in construction today may very well be linked to past events. Shop classes in high schools and technical schools used to be extremely common; now, they are few and far between. Young people are not getting the same exposure as they used to for this type of work. The solution here? Bolstering up your onboarding and training programs so you can help new talent learn on the job. You may also want to expand your recruitment efforts outside of the usual channels to reach individuals who may not currently be considering a job in construction.

Aging population

The average age of someone working in construction is over forty. Many of these individuals have worked in their current field for at least one decade, if not longer. These jobs are less popular with younger workers, partially because there is less exposure to them and partially because there is more interest in working in tech-focused positions. Make sure that you are taking excellent care to retain your older staff; these individuals will be critical to helping younger talent learn on the job.


Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash