The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the construction workforce grew by 1.66% between January 2017 and October 2017. Comparatively, the industry grew by 2.1% in 2016. Nationally, according to the BLS, that’s equivalent to 113,000 new jobs in 2017 compared to 144,000 in 2016.
Often the Great Recession of 2018 is blamed for the labor shortage in the construction industry, but there are a number of other economic factors that are contributing to the slowdown of workers entering the space. For instance, the pace of recovery in Texas and Florida, where hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused an estimated $250 billion in damage also had an impact on the economic state of the construction industry.
Data from TSheets reveals this trend continues for the construction industry, as many employees are working longer days. An analysis of anonymous timesheet data from more than 12,000 construction companies shows that employees are working longer hours than at any point in the past three years.
In 2017, construction employees worked on average 39.6 hours a week, which is an increase of more than one hour per employees per week compared to 2015, when the average was 38.4 hours. In 2016, the average was 39.2 hours a week, per employee. This comes at a time when the workforce is also expanding at a slower rate than it has in the past.
At the same time, the number of employees working overtime remains low. Just 1% of the construction workforce currently works more than 40 hours a week, but when they do it is an extra 9.6 hours. This means roughly 69,000 construction workers across the United States worked almost 50 hours a week.
Technology can help take some of this burden off construction workers. Software, robotics, and machine learning can enable more productive jobsites. The technology is here, although the challenge is often the lack of adoption in new, emerging technologies, which can be contributed to a number of factors.
For instance, implementing new machinery is risky because it increases costs on projects during a time when projects are very lean. Also, interoperability hurdles have slowed adoption of technology for many construction companies in the past. Going forward, the cost for implementation will need to be lowered and interoperability challenges will need to be solved in order to speed adoption and help with the hiring squeeze.
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