Could a Reduction in Young Construction Workers Mean a Labor Shortage?

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Robison Wells
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Fewer young people are entering the construction industry; this could translate into an increasing labor shortage. Compared to 2009, there were 330,000 fewer construction workers between the ages of 20-29 than in 2019. On the other hand, there are 312,000 more construction workers over 60 in that same period.

Construction skews older across the board. The median age for construction workers is 41, while the median in hospitality is 30 and retail is 36. The median for all industries is the same as construction, 41.

According to data from the U.S Census Bureau, the Northeast has the oldest workers, while the Great Plains has the youngest. Overall, North Dakota, Utah, and Alaska have the very youngest, with a median of 36 years old, while Maine has the highest at 46.

Although no empirical evidence indicates a reason for this labor shortage, some experts blame a reduction in high school vocational courses. Others cite the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 as a viable root for the decrease in labor.

According to the census data, the following were the median ages of the workers in major cities (over 1,000,000 population) in 2019:

Youngest:

#1. Oklahoma City: 35

#2. Salt Lake City: 36

#3. San Antonio: 38

#4. Tucson: 38

#5. Dallas-Fort Worth: 38

Oldest:

#1. Miami: 45

#2. Baltimore: 44

#3. Buffalo: 44

#4. Hartford: 44

#5. Cleveland: 44

Older tradesmen bring a high value in expertise to the industry; they act as teachers for less experienced workers. But the reduction in young construction workers places a high value on educating and recruiting new interest to the construction industry.

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