Builders continue to report hiring difficulties, causing some to hold back on bids, despite the influx of public dollars afloat. Industry experts predict that infrastructure jobs will create further challenges for construction labor, and the Department of Labor is advancing efforts to bring more under represented groups into the field.
Ever More Important: Diversification
In the face of the tight labor market, diversifying the workforce in the construction industry is becoming increasingly urgent. Infrastructure builds across the country are turning up the pressure to hire and retain staff. Construction Dive summarizes the current imperative this way:
Most construction firms report trouble finding enough workers to keep pace with demand. Many contractors are opting not to bid on projects as a result, because they simply do not have the staffing to complete and deliver the work, according to AGC….The Department of Labor has recently announced initiatives to train and employ women and minorities — underrepresented groups in construction — so that they can find a strong career path and fill the gap in demand. The agency hopes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create an opportunity for workers seeking good-paying jobs, who then realize their future in construction.
Nevertheless, the gap is wide. The IIJA will likely continue to push demand higher. Even as large infrastructure projects come to town, builders are competing over a small pool of staff for their work.
Tangible signs of the busy times infrastructure dollars are creating can be found in recent employment trends. For example, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) recently analyzed federal employment data and found that across 45 states, construction employment levels had risen between February 2022 and February 2023: “Texas saw the largest number of jobs added, increasing by 37,900, or 5%….West Virginia saw the largest drop, losing 2,200 jobs, or 6.5%, over that time period.” Although the first two months of 2023 saw declines in construction employment in 20 states, perhaps attributable to weather, employment continued to increase in 24 states, prompting Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC to observe: “Construction employment continued to expand almost everywhere in February compared to a year ago, despite a slump in homebuilding.”
Even with the workforce challenges, some builders are capitalizing on opportunities to win more work—and The Partnership Account® for Contractors can get you growing too. Once qualified, The Partnership Account® gives builders a surety line of credit—in writing—and a private digital dashboard, providing daily snapshots of single and aggregate limits and bond capacity. Go ahead: update work on hand, increase the aggregate and hit the green light on your next build.
Experts point out that infrastructure, green energy and semiconductor manufacturing (CHIPS) projects are going to keep builders hopping, provide a plethora of good jobs for workers—and ratchet up the necessity of welcoming under represented groups, including women, into building trades:
The lack of diversity in infrastructure jobs comes at a time when the industry is desperate for workers. Amid a competitive job market with record low unemployment levels, employers will need to recruit hundreds of thousands of additional workers to meet the flow of federal investment….Making infrastructure jobs accessible to women not only ensures a more equitable distribution of federal investments but will meet critical labor force needs over the next decade….There’s an urgency to this since the construction industry is on the verge of a good jobs boom fueled by $2 trillion in investments signed into law over the past two years. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act have the potential to create millions of good jobs that will repair our crumbling infrastructure, bolster green energy production and incentivize domestic manufacturing.
Successful owners know they can’t win more bids without great help. That’s why they come to Colonial for The Partnership Account® for Contractors. Once qualified, builders position their companies to win with:
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- the ability to update work on hand—and increase your aggregate.
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a leading direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products across the USA. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company and U.S. Treasury listed.