Halfway through 2021, the construction labor market has largely recovered.

Data for the first quarter is promising, with construction employment slightly above the 2020 average (although below the 2019 average). This varies quite a bit by location, however. Some places, like San Diego, have more people working in construction than ever before. Other places, like Las Vegas, have declined further in the last four months. With the expected increase in construction volume, we expect this number to rise further (at least on the national level).

Unemployment averaged just over 8% in 2020, although it peaked at 14% last April. Initial figures for 2021 show a steady decline across the board, with some places making a full recovery. It is currently at about 6%, and will likely decline further as people are retrained, exit the labor force, and as the economy reopens. Initial data for unemployment and for the construction industry is promising.

As we look further at details of the labor market, things are looking up as well. The Association of General Contractors Labor Survey for 2020 shows that the majority of contractors do not expect difficulty filling key positions, although more people expect there to be difficulty filling unskilled positions than skilled positions. With the expected increase in construction activity, however, we expect things to improve even further.

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