Unemployment in Construction Lowest in Years, Though Qualified Labor Is Still Hard to Find

After a lengthy period of limited opportunity and uncertainty, unemployment in construction is at its lowest point since 2006. Despite the positive upturn in construction employment, however, some industries and geographical areas are still experiencing unemployment in construction.

construction employmentQualified construction workers are still in short supply in areas where oil drilling and petroleum production have been popular, according to Building Design & Construction.

A survey of some 1,100 members of the Associated General Contractors of America revealed that more than 80 percent of respondents were having difficult finding qualified craft workers for their construction projects. Another 61 percent of respondents indicated trouble filling other types of professional positions.

This shortage of qualified, skilled construction laborers comes at the same time that overall construction employment is up. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated an increase of 12,000 jobs in October 2014, bringing construction industry unemployment to 6.4 percent, the lowest rate since October 2006.

The construction industry added 231,000 jobs between October 2013 and October 2014, resulting in employment at its highest level since May 2009.

Most of the gains have been seen in residential construction, with more than 130,000 residential and specialty contractor jobs added within the same one-year period. Professional jobs in civil and heavy engineering increased by nearly 100,000.

The labor shortage is most acute in southern states such as Louisiana, where oil production and refining, pipeline construction and petroleum industry projects are more common.

Labor costs and productivity limitations are having the effect of increasing the costs of projects within the petroleum industry, which could eventually have effects on the prices of products such as methanol.

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