Labor Shortages

3 Reasons Why There Are Labor Shortages in the Construction and Building Products Industries

Many sectors of the United States economy are currently facing labor shortages. However, two of the most affected areas are the construction and building products industries.

There remains a consistent need for work in both fields, but while the demand is there, the supply of skilled, capable workers is currently not. As of right now, the construction industry is attempting to fill close to 200,000 available positions a month, while the manufacturing sector, of which the building products industry is part, is pressing to fill a monthly average of 390,000 vacancies.

So what exactly is causing these labor shortages? Read on to learn the three main reasons behind them.

Baby Boomers Retiring

One of the major reasons for labor shortages in the construction and building products industries is that older workers are leaving their positions after holding them for countless years. Many members of the “baby boomer” generation are retiring, and their departure from these fields is leaving too many holes for hiring managers to fill in a timely manner.

The sheer amount of job openings is creating problems for all companies, but especially smaller ones that aren’t able to complete projects or fulfill orders on time because they lack the necessary amount of employees to get these jobs done properly.

Lack of Focus on Trade Professions

So why aren’t young adults coming into these industries and replacing the retiring workers? An easy answer one could point to is there has not been as much of an importance or focus placed on trade positions for the younger generations of today.

Many high schools across the United States have cut classes like woodshop, which provide students with the opportunity to get a taste of what life as a trade professional could be like. If there is no exposure to this type of work during an adolescent’s formative years, then how can they envision it as a potential career?

Plus, up until America’s recent economic boom over the past few years, as the unemployment rate has continued to fall, companies of all types viewed a four-year, college education as an almost perquisite to being hired. Therefore, more high school advisers and college counselors emphasized the need to attend college without offering other alternatives that do not require a more formal, traditional form of education.

Decline in Immigration

A recent development that has more specifically affected the construction industry is a decline in immigration over the past two presidential administrations. Immigrants make up a large portion of the construction industry’s workforce, especially in states along the southern border like California and Texas.

Harsher immigration laws and stricter penalties for undocumented workers have resulted in a reduced number of immigrants being able to join the construction industry, thus allowing for more laborer positions to remain available and increasing the overall numbers for labor shortages.

Going Forward

There is no easy, cure-all solution to the labor shortages happening across both the construction and building products industries.

However, if people within these specific fields are aware of the reasons behind these problems, they can work towards solving them. Hopefully, over time, these many vacancies will be filled, projects will be able to be finished in a timely fashion, and both sectors of the economy will continue to thrive.

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