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Construction Workers Out of the Workforce - 11/2/15

Home builders are increasingly facing delays and rising costs as they struggle to locate enough construction workers.  That represents a far cry from the recession when the construction workforce was hit harder than any other major occupational workforce in America.  The housing boom of roughly a decade ago helped push construction industry employment above seven point seven million in two thousand and six. 

But over the next five years, nearly two point three million construction workers lost their jobs.  Even now, employment in the nation’s construction industry is one point three million below its pre-recession peak.  Given that, one would think that there would be plenty of available construction workers.  But many construction workers, frustrated by job loss and slow recovery, have left the industry. 

To a large extent, that’s bad news.  The construction industry supports many middle income jobs, including electricians and carpenters.  Federal Reserve research indicates a large and growing group of workers who are likely candidates for construction employment, but who are now simply out of the workforce.  It may make sense to expand construction training programs in an effort to connect these dislocated workers to middle income construction opportunities.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.