A scarcity of labor remains an important headwind for home builders and the entire construction industry. NAHB analysis of the most recent 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) data reveals that the median age of construction workers is 41, which is the same as the median age of the overall labor force.
As home building continues its recovery, there are significant labor market developments. Unfilled jobs in the construction sector have been on a generally rising trend. Moreover, while the residential construction sector has been adding net jobs, nearly 714,600 more positions since the low point of employment after the Great Recession, home builders continue to cite labor shortage as a top business challenge.
The median age of construction labor shows regional patterns. The color coding in the map above tracks the median age of construction workers. States with older construction workers are in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. For example, the median age of construction workers is 47 in the state of Vermont, followed by 46 in Rhode Island, and 44 in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Construction workers are younger on average in the central part of the nation. Half of all construction workers in Nebraska, and Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming are under 38 years of age.
The second data series mapped above is the difference between the median age of construction workers in each state and the median age of the overall workforce. These estimates are reported as the numbers mapped on each state. A positive number indicates that on average, construction workers are older than a typical worker in the state labor force. Rhode Island is the state where the median age of construction workers is 4 years higher than the overall median, followed by Kentucky and Vermont (+3).
The ACS data also permit an examination of median age by occupations. The medians are presented by occupations below. Construction occupations with younger workers include helpers, roofers, and equipment operators. Older workers are concentrated in managerial positions such as inspectors, construction supervisors and construction managers.
Given ongoing labor access issues in the industry, attracting the next generation of construction workers will be a challenge the sector will face in the coming years.