There are now more construction jobs in 32 states than there were before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reports that the number of construction personnel in 32 states has surpassed the “pre-pandemic” peak.

The good news is tempered by the fact that “record-high job openings” indicate a labor shortage.

The strongest construction sector job growth since February 2020 has occurred in Utah, while the “worst declines” have occurred in New York.

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In all states, says the AGC, many companies are “having a hard time finding workers to hire,” creating a potential for some future projects.

Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist said: “Construction employment gains have stalled in many states in recent months as the pool of available workers has dried up.”

Simonson said: “It will be hard to satisfy the demand for private projects and infrastructure unless more workers are available to fill the record number of openings.”

Government data from the monthly Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover Survey, the construction sector had 415,000 job openings at the end of March.

That was the greatest March total since the series began in 2001, and it represented a 20 percent increase in openings over the previous year.

The number of openings exceeded the 388,000 employees hired during that month, implying that construction firms would have added twice as many employees if they had been available, says Simonson.

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From February 2020—the month before the pandemic caused projects to be halted or canceled—to April 2022, construction employment increased in 32, states, declined in 17 states and the District of Columbia and was unchanged in Alaska.

Utah has added the most construction jobs since February 2020 (16,300 jobs, 14.3 percent), followed by Florida (15,500 jobs, 2.7 percent) and Tennessee (13,200 jobs, 10.0 percent).

Utah also had the largest percentage gain, followed by Montana (13.3 percent, 4,100 jobs) and South Dakota (12.5 percent, 3,000 jobs).

AGC says it is urging public officials to increase investments in career and technical education to help entice more individuals to pursue careers in construction.

They say the federal government invests inadequately in programs focusing on careers like construction.

Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO said: “We need to let more young people know they can earn a good living and a lot of satisfaction by working in construction careers,”

Source: Construction & Demolition Recycling

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