Aging Population of Trade Workers is a Major Contributor to the Labor Shortfall

aging population of trade workers

HBI’s Fall 2023 Construction Labor Market Report shows the share of construction workers aged 25 to 54 has decreased from 72 percent in 2015 to 67.7 percent in 2021.

The aging population of trade workers was already a concern before. But another report confirms after the economy’s initial COVID shutdown in early 2020, over one million Baby Boomers, many with decades of work experience, permanently left the workforce. “America’s demographic picture makes clear that labor will be a long-term constraint on the growth of the construction industry,” states the recent Gordian/ConstructConnect report.

Meanwhile, NAHB estimates the total housing deficit to be some 1.5 million homes short.

HBI President and CEO Ed Brady warns, “When you combine the growth in construction with the number of workers required to replace those leaving the sector permanently, you’re talking about needing more than 60,000 new hires every month.  Between now and 2026, we will need more than two million new skilled workers in construction. That is a daunting proposition.”

Both of the recent labor reports show that average hourly wages in the construction industry have increased, with average wage levels exceeding national private sector averages. Construction wages rose an average of 20% from 2021 to 2023, says the Gordian report.  And construction trade wages in the continental U.S. have been rising at a much higher rate in traditionally low-cost areas.

HBI notes that women now make up a growing share of the construction employment, reaching 10.9 percent in 2022, a notable increase from 9.1 percent in 2017. Immigrant workers now account for 24 percent of the construction workforce, with Hispanics comprising a record high 31.5 percent of the construction labor force.  And construction attracts 6.5 percent of all employed veterans.

February is Career and Technical Education Month

To help raise public awareness about the numerous career opportunities in the industry, NAHB participates in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month® each February. With a focus on engaging students at the middle school level, the CTE educational track encompasses a variety of fields such as residential construction, architecture and advanced manufacturing. Educational initiatives include classroom learning, certification programs and other work-based learning opportunities outside the classroom.

This month, HBA members are hosting career exploration panels and some will host students for a day at their place of business to show real-world examples of careers in action. Builders are encouraged to get involved at starting NAHB Student Chapters in their communities and donate equipment to local trades education programs.  The NAHB Student Competitions at this month’s International Builders’ Show (IBS) will feature contests between more than 400 of the brightest aspiring project managers, land developers and designers from NAHB student chapters.

aging population of trade workers

Read our post about career opportunities in the housing industry

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