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US construction slows due to lack of skilled workers

Construction employment decreased in 33 US states between January and February of this year, according to information released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Although the number of construction jobs in the US increased in 37 states between January 2018 and February 2019, this latest drop in figures has highlighted the country’s lack of skilled construction workers.

The AGC’s chief economist, Ken Simonson, said, “Although job growth remains widespread on a year-over-year basis, the combination of exceptionally bad weather and record low unemployment in many states stopped the growth of construction jobs at least temporarily in February.”

Only 16 US states saw an increase in the number of construction jobs between January and February of 2019. AGC officials said the growing shortage of qualified workers, coupled with recent severe weather, was responsible for the industry’s slowdown.

The AGC had previously reported that construction employment across a total of 358 metro areas had increased by 76% between January 2018 and January 2019. However this latest drop in construction jobs has led to the calling for new legislature to be enacted by Congress.

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of AGC, said, “Contractors continue to struggle to find enough qualified workers to hire in order to keep pace with demand for construction. Allowing employers to bring in guest workers for positions that can’t be filled otherwise is essential to keep the economy expanding.”

The association said legislative schemes such as the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act, which was recently introduced to Congress, would provide qualified workers for the construction industry while still protecting American jobs.

“The record number of job openings in construction reported in the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for January shows that finding qualified construction workers is still a challenge,” added Simonson.

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