The number of women employed in the construction industry increased to over 1.24 million in 2021, as the construction industry was quickly recovering jobs lost earlier during the pandemic induced recession. Currently, women make up 11% of the construction workforce, up from 9.3% in 2002. As the construction skilled labor shortage remains a key challenge for housing, adding new workers is an important goal of the industry. Bringing additional women into the construction labor force represents a potential opportunity for the future. This post looks at the state of women in the construction industry using labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS).
During the Great Recession, the number of female workers in construction declined sharply by almost 30% to 807,000 by 2010. From 2010 to 2017, the total slowly expanded to around 970,000 but remained below the peak of pre-recession levels. The number of women working in construction grew rapidly in recent years, reaching a new high of 1.24 million in 2021.
Job gains by women have been outpacing overall job gains in construction in recent years. As a result, the share of women in construction increased 1.9 percentage points from 2017 to 2021. Currently, women make up 11% of the construction workforce, the highest share on record. According to the Current Population Survey, women in the construction are mostly involved in such occupations as office and administrative support, management, business and financial operations. Sales and office occupations employed the largest number of women within the construction industry. For example, women accounted for 71% of workers in sales and office occupations, including 440,000 women in office and administrative support, and 40,000 in sales and related occupations in 2021. Around 460,000 women were engaged in management, professional, and related occupations, taking up only 17% of all management positions
While construction and maintenance occupations account for the largest number of employees in construction and is where additional workers are most needed, women comprised only 3.7% of the such occupations. Additional steps should be taken to attract female workers into these high demand occupations. Other groups such as production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and service occupations employed only around 15,000 female workers.