An essential component of the US economy, the construction industry makes up around 4.1% of US GDP. As the cost of the building rises due to a lack of increase in productivity, labor shortages, and rising material prices, it’s critical to make progress towards making the construction industry more efficient and cost-effective, and California is not immune to this problem.
Focusing in on the labor shortage problem, 80% of residential contractors and over 50% of commercial contractors reported difficulty filling craft worker positions in 2018, according to two separate surveys. With unemployment at a 50-year low, contractors are facing the most difficult hiring conditions in more than a generation.
In the HVAC industry specifically, the shortage is particularly acute. Mechanic and installer jobs nationwide are expected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for more than a decade, the lack of qualified technicians has been a growing problem in the US. Statistics show that 25% of the construction workforce will be of retirement age by 2020, a level of growth that’s much faster than the average for all occupations.
There is clearly a decreasing supply of new talent entering the construction industry. As construction work has increased, the construction labor market has actually been in decline over the past 40 years — and so has productivity. This is a complex problem, and it’s clear that more needs to be done to attract young people into the industry.
Solutions to this will include creating more awareness and promoting construction careers in our schools, supporting apprenticeship programs, and getting the message out where young people spend a large amount of their time: social media.