Construction employers have added 16,000 jobs and the sector’s employment rate has fallen to 7%, the lowest for September in years, according to an analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Officials say the employment gains come as more firms report having a difficult time finding enough qualified workers to fill available positions. They say there is a lack of vocational training programs, especially at the secondary level.
“While we are eager to see even more construction employment gains, there is no denying the fact that the industry has been in recovery mode for much of the past three years,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But the industry won’t be able to keep filling positions if there aren’t enough qualified workers available to fill them.”
Construction employment reached 6 million in September, the highest total since May 2009, with a 12-month gain of 230,000 jobs. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 11,800 employees since August and 129,400 (5.9 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential building and specialty trade contactors hired 3,700 workers for the month and 100,300 since September 2013. Heavy and civil engineering contractors has increased their headcount by only 500 in September and 29,00 in the past year.
The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell to 604,000 last month.
As the result of firms citing the lack of local vocational programs as one of the causes of worker shortages, association officials and continued to urge federal, state and local officials to enact the series of measures the association identified in its Workforce Development Plan that will make it easier for school districts, local associations and private firms to establish career and technical education and training programs.