United States Projecting Construction Labour Shortages

Jennifer Leakos
Labour sign
Courtesy of Memebase

Based on an anticipated shortage of 500,000+ workers in the construction industry, projects in the US may end up like Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia: unfinished after 100 years.

What happened: The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a US industry group, released its annual job forecast and found the construction industry will need an additional 546,000 workers this year on top of normal hiring. The ABC’s model predicts for every $1 billion in construction spending, roughly 3,600 new jobs are created.

There is a whole lotta cash going into new projects:

  • $1.2 trillion stimulus for US infrastructure spending
  • $369 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act for clean energy projects
  • $39 billion from the CHIPS and Science Act to produce semiconductors chips

Big jump: Last year, there were just 391,000 construction job postings. With the unemployment rate in the construction industry sitting at 4.6 percent  – the second lowest ever recorded – there’s a huge gap in the available workers to fill those job postings.

  • In a survey of thousands of construction companies, 80 percent had said they had difficulty hiring.

These same struggles are present north of the border in Canada as well, where it’s estimated there will be a shortage of 100,000 qualified tradespeople by 2029.

Zoom out: These labour shortages pose a major challenge for new construction projects, especially for distributed energy resources like wind and solar infrastructure. In order to complete the projects required to meet net-zero goals, the labour gap will have to be addressed as robots won’t be able to take over those jobs…yet.