U.S. Construction Labor Trends

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the construction industry labor force increased by just over 4% over the last six months while construction unemployment remains at just under 4%.

Finding skilled labor continues to present a major challenge for all aspects of the industry, including shipping and trucking, manufacturing, and on-site construction. Average wage rates in construction have been rising steadily as a result. The BLS reports that average hourly wages increased almost 7% year over year to $37.24 in December 2023 and around 19% relative to the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns in March 2020. Construction wages are expected to experience upward pressure in 2024 as labor demand continues to outpace supply. Rising wage rates can also have an impact on project execution and profit margins, especially if the elevated costs cannot be transferred to clients.

The construction industry continues to grapple with filling open workforce positions and is faced with a significant labor gap. At the same time, the quit rate is still higher than the rate of layoffs and discharges—highlighting the voluntary exit of the workforce. The rise of remote work and greater career flexibility has likely contributed to retention issues, and an aging workforce has muddied the waters even further. Associated Builders and Contractors recently reported that the construction industry will need more than 342,000 new workers in 2024. This severe a shortage of skilled workers can directly influence a company’s capability to meet its commitments. Due to a lack of available qualified candidates, 68% of construction firms surveyed are struggling to fill open positions. In order to meet the incoming demand for work, 69% of surveyed firms expect to increase headcount in the next year.


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