The Job Market Is Cooling but Construction Jobs Are Booming | Entrepreneur

In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $1 trillion—with $550 billion in new spending over five years—to invest in roads, railways, bridges, and broadband internet to upgrade and expand infrastructure across the country.

But a year and a half later, some economists and hiring professionals note that those funds are essentially worthless if there’s no one to do the job, NPR reported.

Between 2019 and 2020, construction application activity declined by 40%, and remained somewhat static since, the chief economist at ZipRecruiter, Julia Pollak, told NPR. In February 2023, construction job openings increased by 129,000, but in the overall job market, openings fell by 632,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Construction industry professionals have also highlighted a key flaw in the $1 trillion deal: it failed to set aside adequate funds for training individuals to complete the jobs it intended to prioritize.

Adding to the labor deficit is a lack of qualified teachers in the industry. Nathan Barry, dean of career and technical education at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, told NPR that initiatives to expand construction training began nearly 10 years ago because he noticed a disproportionate amount of workers ready to retire, but lacked a “good pipeline of people coming in.”

Related: There Are a Ton of New Jobs In Energy. Are You Qualified to Fill Them?

However, Barry said the school’s construction education center has a long waitlist of prospective students, but it’s hard to find anyone qualified to teach the offerings.

“Who’s gonna go teach a high school class for $50,000 a year when they can make $85 to $100,000 a year…in the trades?” Sean Ray, a vice president who oversees training at Sundt Construction in Arizona, told the outlet.

It’s also been tough to sell prospective workers on a life in construction — a job that requires intense physical labor.

“That’s the thing that we’re not doing a great job with,” Ray said. “We’ve got to find a way to make construction sexy.”

Still, things might be looking up, with the construction industry showing signs of a rebound. According to data firm Statista, the construction sector employed almost eight million people in the U.S. in early 2023 — marking the highest number since the start of the pandemic when employment levels were around six million.

Related: Construction Is Booming Now but Without New Workers and Tech Its Future Is Uncertain

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