By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Construction firms nationwide provided a wage premium of nearly 19 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees as contractors continue chasing bodies to staff the still-robust construction activity in many states.
The Associated General Contractors of America said June 2 that the industry is still struggling to hire and retain enough people.
“Demand for construction workers remains strong, outside of homebuilding,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC of America. “Contractors continue to report their primary challenge is finding qualified workers, not finding projects or most materials.”
The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience declined from 3.8 percent last May to 3.5 percent in May 2023, the second-lowest May rate in the 23-year history of the data. A separate government report released in late May reported that new hires in construction at the end of April totaled 460,000, growing 3 percent from one year earlier. The new hires figure, according to Simonson, does not account for the number of workers who left the industry during the same timeframe.
Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction – covering more onsite craft workers as well as many office workers – jumped by 6 percent over the year to $34.07 per hour.
Association officials say firms are boosting pay and taking other steps to recruit construction workers.