What’s even going on?


Believe it or not, we are still feeling the drastic effects of the 2020 pandemic in the United States. Before we shut down the world due to COVID-19, there were around 8 million construction workers within the country. Unfortunately, this number dropped by over a million once businesses started closing down and the masks came on.


Since then, we have been rebuilding our labor force and have been doing so with the help of the government, as well.  On November 15, 2021, the US Congress signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which gave the industry a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that will supposedly “add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade” – according to the White House. If President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda comes to fruition soon, we will hopefully end up relieving this issue.


But let’s look at the current situation, today. According to Erica Floyd from forconstructionpros.com, “Despite construction job openings plummeting by 71,000 in June 2022, they rebounded in July by 31,000 jobs, according to recent Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) reports on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey data. On a year-over-year basis, construction industry employment has increased by 311,000 jobs, or 4.2%, ABC said in its latest analysis, released August 5.” All things considered; we have grown a lot in the past few years as a quick rebound from what was a massive dip in construction jobs during the pandemic. Let’s look at why there still is a labor shortage and what we can do to help our businesses find the workers they need.



So why is there even a labor shortage?


There is a multitude of reasons why there is currently a labor shortage apart from the previously stated fact of the recession that rose due to the pandemic. The first of these reasons include the rising construction starts in 2022. Despite the current labor and material shortage from supply chain problems, there has been an increase in demand for new construction projects. An increase in construction starts follows an increase in labor required to complete these projects – something that we are still lacking to this day. According to the Dodge Construction Network, “year-to-date, total construction was 11% higher in the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021”, which shows the positive changes to the economy over the past year.


Another problem includes the increasing gap between younger workers and those that are reaching retirement age. With a high percentage of the current workforce expecting to retire in the next decade, the future does lay on hiring young, skilled construction workers with rewarding and at least decent-paying careers. There is also currently a lack of apprenticeship opportunities within the market, worsening this future pool of skilled laborers, which can be easily pushed in the right direction. Along with the already-high turnover rate, a change is needed to both solve this problem of a labor shortage as well as preserve the future of the construction industry.


Finally, to go along with this huge retirement spree of the Baby Boomers – we find difficulty in attracting the new generation of workers to the industry. With new generations come new expectations and experiences that change the workforce, and this includes values of a work-life balance, proper benefits, and schedule flexibility that haven’t been a huge factor in hiring before. Even so, convincing the younger generations is crucial to replenish the workforce with technology-sound laborers and hard-working individuals.


How we can solve this problem


Recruitment is a huge topic when going about solving our labor shortage problem. Getting creative with the hiring process and allowing for better retention of your workers is a great way to solve your hiring problems. Included in this is allowing for, as stated before, schedule flexibility for those who may be in school or who are interested in varying work hours. If applicable, many may want to see remote work – something that has become a new phenomenon after the pandemic. Another way to help with recruitment may be through employee benefits, which is very important for worker morale as they feel rewarded and supported through their labor.


Another solution, as this labor shortage continues to stagnate over the next few years, is the use of automation technology as a way to alleviate the required tasks of employees. Included in this is the use of maintenance monitoring platforms, telematics solutions, and other technologies that can assist in the management of your business. These types of solutions are available from external vendors or OEMs alike and help you overview your equipment and business processes relating to them – a vital component of your construction projects. In a competitive and timely market such as construction, some of these processes will need to be streamlined for maximum efficiency.


Lastly, you may want to evaluate your management style and change how you control your employees and business as a whole. Traditionally, transparency has never really been a huge focus for those in higher positions. However, putting trust in your employees and equipping them with opportunities for opinions/decisions can help boost worker morale and motivation for retention. Perhaps it is time to provide open communication and strengthen the relationship between you and your workers!



Keeping our heads high


All in all, the future is looking bright. With government-backed legislation helping the industry and business organizations push for better pay and working conditions, we are looking to fill this labor gap and keep our industry on an upwards trend. Take a look at our solutions and see what you can do to fix any hiring problems and increase your productivity – whether it be through successful employment or external vendor investment.


For all your equipment maintenance needs, check out Senzit here. A predictive maintenance platform with 80 years of M+H Filtration, our specialized sensors monitor engine filtration and dust load, predicting the health and lifespan of your filters. Along with geolocation, logs, trend reports, and more, you get a full overview of all your heavy-duty vehicles, allowing you to improve return on investment and equipment uptime.


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