Where did construction workers go during industry crash?

Dive Brief:

  • U.S. Census Bureau economists have determined that 60% of construction workers left the industry during the housing bust and recession and did not return, opting to move into other industries or leaving the labor market altogether.
  • According to the Census Bureau’s job-to-job flows program, of the industry workers who became unemployed between 2006 and 2009, 40% returned to construction, approximately one-third switched to another industry, less than 5% moved to the oil and gas industry, and one-quarter were still unemployed.
  • Census researchers also found another possible reason for today’s tight labor pool: construction companies are not hiring enough young workers, prompting them to choose other industries.

Dive Insight:

The decline in younger workers, according to the Census Bureau, could be due to the fact that construction companies are not training workers at the same rate as other industries, or there could be a general lack of interest in the short-term work so common in the industry.

This study emphasizes the same issue that the Associated General Contractors of America has been repeatedly addressing — a lack of younger construction workers — since introducing its 2015 Workforce Development Plan, which focuses on getting younger people to choose a career in construction.

The AGC has been advocating on behalf of the plan with officials at state and federal levels, urging them to take an active role in increasing the number of those entering the construction industry workforce.

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