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U.S. Construction CEO: 'We're going to need more skilled workers'

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

The October jobs report, released Friday, showed that the US economy is continuing to grow stronger. There were 250,000 jobs created, with 30,000 of those jobs in the construction industry.

Yet, at the same time, the construction sector is still lagging in terms of filling these positions: The industry had the biggest unemployment to vacancy ratio in the U.S. as of September, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Daniel Kodsi, CEO of Paramount Real Estate Ventures, said that there is going to be a “continuous influx in development throughout the country” and more hiring will be needed.

“We’re redeveloping our downtowns, our urban centers,” Kodsi told Market Movers on Friday. “We’re going to need more skilled workers within the United States.”

There is a need for more skilled construction workers. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

According to US News & World Report, “the labor shortage is so acute that 91% of more than 2,700 contractors, construction managers, builders, and trade contractors surveyed in the latest Commercial Construction Index reported having a difficult or moderately difficult time finding skilled workers.”

Kodsi attributes the lack of skilled workers to “technology taking over” and the fact that many young people are not receiving vocational training to get “other kinds” of jobs.

“We should be training them,” he said. “I know the US government has formed the Technical Employment Act and … that’s funding a lot of vocational jobs within the country.”

‘This is not going to go away’

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “nearly half of the [construction employment] gain occurred among residential specialty trade contractors (+14,000)” for October 2018.

“This is across the country,” Kodsi said. “We continue to have population growth. This is not going to go away.”

Nick Bunker, an economist with Indeed’s Hiring Lab, told Yahoo Finance that the lack of construction workers is strongly tied to the Great Recession.

The 2008 financial crisis “was a huge shock to the [construction] industry, and they’re still dealing with the ramifications from it,” he said.

Kodsi, who is based out of Florida, noted the impact that hurricanes have on the construction industry. Despite the fact that many of these storms are short term, “this is creating a severe shortage of jobs,” he said. The number of construction workers sharply decreased in September 2017, when the state was impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Construction in Florida took a downturn when Hurricane Irma hit. (screenshot/FRED Economic Data)

While employment data by state has not been released yet for the month of October, Florida’s construction employment data is expected to have been affected by Hurricane Michael. 

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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