construction worker

Managing the Construction Worker Shortage

A new report released by the Home Builders Institute (HBI) predicts that the construction industry may be on the cusp of an employee shortage crisis. The HBI’s Fall 2021 Construction Labor Market Report—based on data analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—estimates that an additional 2.2 million new hires will be necessary over the next three years. Taking into account employees who are expected to retire or move to a different sector, this means that approximately 61,000 workers will need to be hired each month, in order not to face a construction worker shortage.


It’s necessary for companies to be aware of this market trend in order to make preparations and avoid potential issues, such as:

  1. Not being able to keep up with projects’ expected timelines
  2. Lacking the resources to accept or bid on new projects
  3. Hiring workers who may not have optimal qualifications
  4. Experiencing worksite safety issues


Two major issues contributing to the construction worker shortage are:

  1. Work-from-home opportunities—For many construction roles, employees are required to be physically present in the workplace. As work-from-home opportunities have become increasingly common, construction workers have switched careers to find a better work-life balance.
  2. Health concerns—Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, infection rates remain high in many parts of the country. And because many construction jobs require individuals to work on a job site in close proximity to others, the odds of an employee getting sick increase—even if the proper precautions are taken. In the event of an outbreak at a construction site, employees may begin to look for other jobs that don’t require them to be around others.


Firms may be able to get out ahead of the competition and secure necessary labor by considering the following steps:


  • Reach out to students at secondary schools and women—who represent only 10.9% of industry employees—and attempt to convince more people to pursue construction careers.
  • Increase pay while taking care to avoid making projects less affordable for clients.
  • Be thoughtful about the benefits you provide your workers. Consider offering well-rounded and affordable employee health care plans. This is especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Make trade skills education and training more readily available for potential veteran, minority and lower-income employees.
  • Partner with schools, community groups and staffing agencies to maintain a strong candidate pipeline.


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