The last couple of years have been a bit strange to say the least. With the onset of a novel virus, the SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID19, a new global pandemic has begun. Early on, the virus was met with heavy-handed lockdowns and stay-at-home orders across the nation. Now, with the onset of a vaccine and the realization that the rapidly-mutating virus is incredibly transmissible, things have eased up. Nonetheless, the first year of the virus 2020, saw people unable to leave their houses and many were forced out of work, or quit their jobs for health reasons. As the pandemic has continued and mutated, more people have left the work force. This has been colloquially called “The Great Resignation.” Many people have accepted that unemployment benefits pay as much or more than their low-wage jobs, and thus realized they don’t need to work. 

The construction industry already had problems

Unfortunately, employers are feeling the COVID-19 pains. As employees leave the work force en-mass, one industry is especially hurt: construction. Construction has had perennially decreasing numbers for various reasons. 

  • An increase in college graduates. College graduates often want to work in specialized fields pertaining to their area of study. Finance, STEM, the arts, and various other subjects draw them away from starting to work construction as an unskilled worker in their teens and early 20s. This leads to not only fewer entrants to the building industry, but later on, fewer skilled workers who can be commercial contractors. If they never get started in construction, they don’t advance and specialize.
  • The 2008 financial crash did a number on the industry as well.  Between 2007 and 2005, the number of workers in the industry went down by about 2 million. This was due primarily to the crash in the housing market. Homes, and the building thereof, was always regarded as a safe investment in the US. When it became apparent that that was no longer true, investment in that sector decreased. With less money in the field, jobs also dried up.

The Great Resignation

Construction contractor jobs in the US started to climb again over the next 10 years after 2008. They almost reached their 2006-2007 high marks, but then the pandemic hit. 2020 Saw a steep drop in construction jobs, followed – fortunately – by a steep uptick. However, numbers still haven’t reached their 2006-2007 high, or even those from late 2019.

Workers have more options

Add to this the general glut of employment opportunities, and people simply don’t have to go into construction anymore. It used to be that construction was a job open to many, no high school degree, or a criminal record, background mattered less. Can you swing a hammer and carry 2x4s? Good enough. Now, many other fields are following suit.  This means that those who were once ineligible for other work can now easily find it. So many are choosing easier jobs, in customer service, or other industries that are less physically demanding than construction.

Why are people leaving?

Thanks to these options, workers are not only not joining construction contractor companies, but leaving in droves. According to Limeade the numbers of people who left their jobs in 2021 breakdown as follows:

  • 40% left due to burnout.
  • 28% left with no other job lined up. The labor market was/is good enough that they could simply walk out and find something new.
  • 37% were looking for better compensation. Less people left jobs to make more money than they did simply because they were tired of working.

What can the construction industry do about it?

So, we know the reasons why construction jobs are down. We also know why people are leaving work. What can commercial contractor employers do to get people working again?

Demonstrate that construction is a career, not just a job

A good contractor is worth a lot of money. And their are dozens of specialized tracks that workers can go down. Beginning with an unskilled position, workers can go into electrical engineering, welding, HVAC, and numerous other fields.

If construction companies are willing to fund these workers education whilst they are working, then they can start to really compete with other high-skill an  (and high pay) employers. 

Break existing stereotypes

Gen Z, the new generation of American workers, is more diverse racially and ethnically than previous generations. This means construction needs to break out of some old habits. The boy’s club mentality that dominated construction (and often industry at large) for years needs to go. Construction firms can’t complain about people not wanting to work for them if they aren’t being open to new peoples. Simply put, you won’t be able to include people if you don’t include them.

Get into the education system

One of the best ways for construction companies to get more workers is to have college and high school programs. Scholarships are a good way to get students interested and working. Another method is to offer hiring/contracts for new grads and pay off their expensive school debts.

College programs also remind new students that construction isn’t a low-skill job. You can be highly educated and work in construction, whether as an engineer, consultant, or project manager. They pay commensurately goes up with the education level as well. 

Reliable Commercial is willing to do what it takes

Whether you are interested in a career with us, or looking to get some building done, Reliable Commercial Construction can help. Make sure to get your building done right the first time. Our specialties include:

  • Industrial and commercial construction.
  • Repairs and installations.
  • Demolition.
  • Renovations.
  • Foundations.
  • Paving.

If you need any of the above, you won’t find a better commercial contractor in the Dallas Fort-Worth area. Whether you are looking to get work done, or get hired to get work done, send us a message today.