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While the recent NAHB Housing Market Index suggested builders are continuing to struggle with labor shortages, construction employment increased in 45 states and the District of Columbia on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Thirty-two states and D.C. added construction employees from July to August. While construction remains a source of employment growth, the AGC notes access to qualified workers remains difficult, and growth could have been more positive given the hiring appetite among firms.

“Construction has been a leading source of employment growth almost universally in the past year,” says Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. “But contractors report needing even more workers as large projects rev up across the country.”

Among states that added construction sector jobs, Texas, California, Ohio, and Georgia reported the largest numerical increase in jobs on a year-over-year basis. Missouri, Colorado, North Dakota, and Vermont reported the largest year-over-year decreases in construction employment.

On a month-over-month basis, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina added the most construction sector jobs. Tennessee, Virginia, and Kansas lost the most jobs between July and August.

A recent survey conducted by the AGC indicates that the biggest challenge cited by employers in adding to their staff is “many candidates lack the qualifications needed to be employable.”

In its Spring 2023 Home Builders Institute Construction Labor Market Report, the HBI indicated the skilled labor shortage remains a limiting factor to expanding construction and combating affordability issues in the residential sector.

To combat the shortage, many industry organizations advocate promoting careers in the trades to high school students, individuals seeking career changes, and military personnel, among other cohorts.

“The good news is construction demand remains strong in many parts of the country,” says AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “But until we as a nation do a better job preparing workers, employers in sectors like construction will continue to struggle to find enough qualified people to hire.”

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