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An estimated 1.2 million construction workers will leave their jobs to work in other industries in 2022—a drain that is expected to be offset by an anticipated 1.3 million workers who will leave other industries to work in construction, according to a new analysis of the workforce shortage from Associated Builders and Contractors. In addition, the construction industry will need to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet labor demands.

ABC’s proprietary model uses the historical relationship between inflation-adjusted construction spending growth, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Value of Construction Put in Place” survey, and payroll construction employment, sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to convert anticipated increases in construction outlays into demand for construction labor at a rate of approximately 3,900 new jobs per billion dollars of additional construction spending. This increased demand is added to the current level of above-average job openings. Projected industry retirements, shifts to other industries and other forms of anticipated separation are also factored into the model.

“The workforce shortage is the most acute challenge facing the construction industry despite sluggish spending growth,” says ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “With many industries outside of construction also competing for increasingly scarce labor, the industry must take drastic steps to ensure future workforce demands are met.”

This trend will continue into 2023, when the industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand—presuming that construction spending growth slows over the next year.

Visit abc.org for more on the workforce shortage model methodology and other findings.


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