The number of trade workers has grown since 2020 but remains below 2019 levels.

There is a genuine shortage of labor in most markets, although a few lucky ones have seen labor make steady gains. We expect this trend to hold in the short term, as many of the markets that saw a decline in labor are also predicted to see a decline in volume. Much of this change appears to be due to older workers choosing to retire rather than risk contracting COVID. Many firms continue to report key difficulties filling workers, and it will take time for people to work their way through the trades.

Things are (finally) looking up in the national labor market. Unemployment has returned to roughly what it was in 2019. Construction employment remains slightly below its pre-pandemic levels, however. Fortunately, the Association of General Contractors Labor Survey for 2020 shows that most contractors do not expect difficulty filling key positions (although the outlook for unskilled labor is less rosy). As volume increases and wages rise, we expect this to bring more people into the industry.

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