Construction Industry Lacks 2.2M Skilled Workers

Washington, DC, December 3, 2021-A lack of skilled construction labor is a key limiting factor for improving housing inventory and affordability, according to a new report by the Home Builders Institute (HBI).

HBI’s Fall 2021 Construction Labor Market Report’s estimation of the current need for additional workers is based on a new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The estimate is determined by approximating the required net growth in employment due to construction expansion plus the workers required to replace individuals who leave the sector permanently.

“The construction industry needs more than 61,000 new hires every month if we are to keep up with both industry growth and the loss of workers either through retirement or simply leaving the sector for good,” said HBI president and CEO Ed Brady. “From 2022 through 2024, this total represents a need for an additional 2.2 million new hires for construction. That’s a staggering number.”

Meanwhile, the report shows home sales outpacing home construction, resulting in growing backlog and supply-chain bottlenecks. More than 12 million new households have been formed since the beginning of 2012, while approximately only ten million new homes for ownership and rent were built during the same time.

“The U.S. is experiencing a historically low supply of homes for sale, especially at the lower price points that newly formed households tend to need,” Brady said. "For residential construction to expand and housing affordability to increase, more skilled building trade workers must be recruited and trained for the home building sector.”

The report, based on research of NAHB’s Economics Group,

• The number of open construction sector jobs currently averages between 300,000 to 400,000 each month.

• Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $50,460 annually and the top 25% make at least $71,000. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $49,150 while the top 25% make at least $67,410.

• Construction employment currently totals 7.42 million. Residential construction represents 3.1 million of this total amount.

• Self-employment in construction is currently 22% of the labor force, down from 26% in 2010.

• The share of immigrants in construction trades is 30%.

• Women make up a slightly growing share of the construction employment, up to 10.9% in 2020 from 10.3% in 2019.

• The median age of construction workers is 41. However, due to aging trends, the share of

construction workers aged 25 to 54 decreased from 72.2% in 2015 to 69.0% in 2019.