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Construction Sector Jobs Set to Rebound

Friday, September 7, 2012

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Here’s a stunner for anyone who has been living amid the job-hemorrhaging wreckage of the construction industry in recent years: Things are about to get better.

From painters to architects to masons to engineers, construction employment across the industry is expected to surge 33% by 2020, adding about 1.8 million jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in a new job outlook. 

 All areas of construction are projected to contribute to the uptick in job growth.

 Photos: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

All areas of construction are projected to contribute to the uptick in job growth.

The hottest prospects are for architects and concrete masons, but all areas of construction—including trades--are poised to grow, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition.

The Other Shoe…

The bad news: Even at its peak projected growth, the industry is not expected to recover all of the jobs bled out during the 2007-09 recession.

Even in 2020, employment is not expected to reach the sector’s pre-recessionary annual average peak of 7.7 million in 2006, according to the Bureau.

“The construction industry was hit hard by the recession, losing 2.2 million jobs from 2006 to 2010,” the Bureau said.

Still, job growth in the industry will result from increased construction and remodeling of homes and office buildings as well as repair and replacement of infrastructure.

Big Picture

Total U.S. employment across all industries is projected to increase by 14% overall from 2010 to 2020, following a 2% decline in 2000–10.

However, the 20.5 million jobs expected to be added by 2020 will not be evenly distributed across major industry and occupational groups, the Bureau noted.

In addition to construction, the health care, personal care and social assistance industries are projected to have the fastest job growth rates during the period.

Jobs requiring a master’s degree are expected to grow the fastest, while those requiring a high school diploma will experience the slowest growth over the timeframe.

The Bureau’s report features 341 occupational profiles, covering 536 detailed occupations. Here are some highlights.

Architects and Engineers

Architecture and engineering are projected to add roughly 252,800 jobs, representing a growth rate of 10%.

Much of the growth will reflect recovery from the recession, with 149,800 jobs having been lost from 2006 to 2010, the Bureau said.

 Employment of architects is projected to grow 24% from 2010 to 2020—faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment of architects is projected to grow 24% from 2010 to 2020—faster than the average for all occupations.

Growth among engineering occupations—especially civil engineers—is expected to be high, with the occupation adding 51,100 positions. Employment of architects is also projected to grow 24% from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

“Current demographic trends will result in a greater need for architects,” according to the report. “Those who distinguish themselves with their creativity should have the best job opportunities.”

Also, the Bureau said that as the nation’s infrastructure ages, greater emphasis will be placed on maintaining existing structures as well as designing and implementing new roads, water systems, and pollution control systems.


Employment of painters is projected to grow 18% from by 2020, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations, the Bureau noted.

 Employment of painters is projected to grow 18% from 2010 to 2020.
Employment of painters is projected to grow 18% from 2010 to 2020.

“Overall job prospects should be good, and opportunities for industrial painters and coaters are expected to be excellent, especially in the Gulf Coast region,” according to the report.


For plasterers and stucco masons, employment is expected to increase 17%, but because they are part of a niche market, overall employment growth may be “somewhat limited,” the Bureau said.

“Job prospects should improve in the coming decade as construction activity rebounds from the recent recession,” the report noted.

Concrete Masons

Overall employment of cement masons and terrazzo workers is projected to grow 34% from 2010 to 2020—much faster than the average for all occupations.

“Although employment growth will vary by specialty, both specialties’ growth will depend on the number of heavy construction and civil construction projects, including roads, bridges, and buildings,” according to the report.

Those who take masonry-related courses at technical schools will have the best job opportunities, the Bureau reported.

New Job Report

If a turnaround is coming, it has not yet arrived, however. The latest monthly unemployment report, released Friday (Sept. 7), showed only a slight dip in the overall jobless rate, to 8.1 percent.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 96,000 in August, with increases registered in food services and drinking places, professional and technical services, and health care.

The overall number of unemployed persons (12.5 million) and long-term unemployed (5 million) were little changed, the Labor Department reported.


Tagged categories: Architects; Construction; Contractors; Economy; Government; Jobs; Painters; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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