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Laid-Off Construction Workers Switch Fields, Industry Now Seeing Shortages

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2012 at 5:03 pm    

From January 2007 until last year, the construction industry laid off nearly 2.2 million workers and now that the home-building construction market along with commercial building sector are beginning to strengthen, the industry is facing an issue of finding workers.

Contractors in Texas, Iowa, Florida, and Arizona are feeling the affects of this shortage more than other states, but it is expected to spread across the U.S. over the next few years.

During the downturn in the construction industry, thousands of workers moved states to find work, retired or left the construction industry and found new fields to work in. Now that the industry is beginning to pick back up, some areas have been left with very few workers to help with the recent activity.

Many construction workers changed to positions such as truck driving, factory work, or oil rig work after the massive layoffs. The fact that the Baby Boomer generation is reaching the age of retirement and recent high school graduates are highly encouraged to go to college instead of entering the construction field are other reasons that the supply and demand gap exists.

This year, the number of building permit applications that have been filed for homes and apartment complexes has increased by nearly 31 percent over last year, according to the Census Bureau. As of September, the total construction spending is also up by 14 percent from February 2011, when the market hit an all-time low.