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U.S. Construction Labor Shortage Looms

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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A two-million-worker gap between construction labor demand and supply in parts of the U.S. could be the industry's next crisis as the workforce continues to shrink amid a strengthening economy, a new report warns.

Construction volumes in the U.S. are beginning to surge, but construction programs and project managers will face staffing problems if the labor force falls short, according to "Projected Demand for Craft Labor for the Southeast United States (2012–2017)," a report by the Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA).

Construction workers
Wikimedia Commons

Currently, the U.S. has 4.5 million to 5 million nonresidential construction workers, down from an estimated 5.5 million to 6 million in 2008. Worker demand is expected to hit 6.7 million in 2016.

The 2012 mid-year report, commissioned by the Southeast Manpower Tripartite Alliance (SEMTA), provides detailed labor market information for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Looming Worker Shortage

As the construction industry suffered greatly during the economic downturn, many unemployed workers left the industry, either moving to other industries or opting for retirement.

Now that construction volumes, particularly in the private and industrial sectors, are increasing, the nation faces a labor shortage of as many as 2 million workers, the report says.

Currently, there are about 4.5 million to 5 million nonresidential construction workers in the U.S., down from an estimated 5.5 million to 6 million in 2008. CLMA estimates that planned projects will demand 5.3 million workers, peaking in 2016 when the demand will hit 6.7 million.

Labor Demand / SEMTA

CLMA

Labor Department figures show that 320,000 constructions laborers stopped working or changed industries in just the past two years, USA Today reported.

Key Findings

The labor market report provides analysis for 42 individual crafts, and CLMA reports that nearly all key crafts will see an increase in demand.

Construction workers
Wikimedia Commons

Texas should see the highest overall construction labor demand, while Louisiana will top the demand for industrial projects.

Highlights of project volume and anticipated labor requirements in the report include the following.

  • Project starts in the U.S. between 2010 and 2017 have an estimated value of $2.7 trillion. A total value of $1.3 trillion is reported for the 12 states detailed in the report.
  • Out of the 12 states, Texas leads with an estimated total project value of $298 billion.That state should also see the overall greatest labor demand, with a peak of 688,000 workers at the end of 2016.
  • Louisiana leads the estimated industrial project volume with an estimated $131 billion. The state should also experience the highest labor demand for industrial projects.
  • Industrial projects starting in the U.S. between 2010 and 2017 total $877 billion; the Southeast total is $677 billion
  • The increasing labor demand will start at 2.4 million in 2012 and peak at 6.7 million in 2016. Throughout 2017, nationwide labor demand is expected to average 5.3 million workers for all projects.
  • In the 12-state region, overall labor demand is expected to average 2.3 million workers through 2017, peaking at 2.9 million in 2016.
  • Industrial projects in the 12-state region are forecast to peak at 344,000 workers in 2015.

For more information, or to purchase the full report: http://myclma.com.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Economy; Jobs; Labor; Market forecasts

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