Age Distribution of the Construction Labor Force


The latest labor force statistics from the 2018 Current Population Survey show that the construction industry continues to struggle to attract younger workers. While workers under the age of 25 comprised 12.3% of the US labor force, their share in the construction industry reached only 9% in 2018. Meanwhile, the share of older construction workers ages 55+ increased from less than 17% in 2011 to almost 22% in 2018.

An earlier post showed that the construction workforce is aging faster than the overall labor force. Compared to the workforce in all industries, construction has a relatively smaller share of younger workers, but a larger proportion of workers in their prime-working age. The chart below shows that, as of 2018, only about 9% of construction workers were 16-24 years old, less than the employment share of this age group in all industries. Around 69% of construction workforce were in the prime working years of 25-54, compared to 64% in overall workforce. The share of workers ages 55 and older was 21.7% in construction, implying that a substantial portion of workforce would retire in near future. The relative greater share of workers in construction in the 35-55 age group, mostly Gen X-ers, reveals the current challenge. Gen X is a smaller generational group that the Baby Boomers were.

Analysis of the age distribution of construction workers over time reveals that the construction workforce is aging, with the share of older workers ages 55+ rising from 16.8% in 2010 to almost 22% in 2018. At the same time, the proportion of workers ages 25 to 54 declined from 74.6% to 69.3%. This change in age composition of construction labor force is largely because the last elements of the Baby Boomer generation are entering the 55+ age group. The share of younger construction workers ages 19 -24 edged up to 9.0% from 8.6%.


4 replies

  1. 25-54 Are either moving into another field, or they are losing a place of employment in their field of experience, diploma, or otherwise.

  2. Please clarify the year for this information. The text references 2018 but graph shows source as 2017 Survey.

  3. It is now 2021 and a lot of those in the45 to 54 age range have moved into the 55 plus range. I am 64 years old and have been in construction for over 40 years. I have never seen it so difficult as it is now to find qualified help. If we don’t take steps to reverse this trend we won’t have anyone with the knowledge to mover forward in the construction industry. One thing that I see that has contributed to the decline of capable workers it the ending of shop class in most high schools. I pray not but I see the end of the trades men if we don’t make a change. A second issue that is harming our industry is drug addiction. I have hired several qualified workers only to loose them to jail, drug test or trustworthy ness.

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