Worker shortage threatens construction job sites


As the demand for post-pandemic construction projects surges, some contractors are unable to take on additional projects or complete them on time due to an ongoing worker shortage.

Construction businesses will need to hire 430,000 workers this year and 1 million within the next two years in order for the industry to keep up with demand, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.

According to the Labor Department, construction employment fell by 7,000 in June, reflecting a job loss in heavy and civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors.

Additionally, as of June, Houston is leading the nation in construction job losses. Since February 2020, the city is down more than 29,000 jobs. New York City is not far behind, having lost over 22,000 jobs. There is a far jump to the next city with construction job loss — Midland, Texas, is down just under 10,000 jobs.

New Jersey-based Wohlsen Construction is feeling the tight labor market, according to project executive Conor Evans.

Evans said Lydia Hu that the worker shortage creates two main “risks” on the job site.

“It’s directly impacting us from a risk perspective in terms of both schedule and budget,” Evans explained. “The subcontractors, their labor shortages, their material shortages directly impacts us as the general contractor that owns the risk to deliver a timely project on budget.”

Many factors are impacting the worker shortage, Evans suggested.

“I think it’s a complicated issue with many contributing factors,” Evans said, “skill shortage, individuals leaving the industry, older generations bringing new industry, bringing new labor into the industry.”

In an effort to attract more employees, Evans said his company, among many others, is focusing recruitment around high school and college students, hoping to train and expose them to the field over time.