The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 03, 2019

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Hardhat women gain, but are still scarce

While there are a growing number of women in construction - there continues to be a wide chasm in the gender makeup of the trades.

A report issued in March by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that between 2017 and 2018, the number of women working in construction trades increased by 17.6 percent, rising to a total of 276,000 in the U.S.

"The share of women working in construction trades in 2018 is the highest in 20 years," the report said, "but women remain strongly underrepresented in the trades: fewer than one in 20 (3.4 percent) of construction trades workers in 2018 were women."

The report said the only other time since 1999 when the share of women in construction was above 3.0 percent was in 2006 - "also a period of high demand for workers in the industry. In the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and recovery that followed, tradeswomen disproportionately lost jobs in the industry, compared with men."

Within several individual trade classifications, the report said women improved their share of jobs between 2017 and 2018, "but progress was uneven."

Although it's not a trade, women saw the most significant employment growth — a 67 percent increase within the last year - as "Construction and Building Inspectors," bringing their share of workers in this occupation to 14 percent (up from 10.2 percent in 2017). 

Among traditional trades, women "saw strong job growth and increases" among the pipe trades (+70 percent in past year), painters (+22.6 percent), laborers (+21.6 percent) and carpenters (+1.8 percent).  The only trade showing a decline during that time was among electricians, -(0.6 percent). Those were, however, the only traditional trades that were included in the study, and the report didn't reach back more than the single year.

Construction sets tee for strong 2019

Michigan was one of 38 states that added construction jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, according to figures released April 19 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Our state gained 4,400 jobs during that 12-month period, a 2.6 percent increase, earning a rank of No. 26 among the states.

Despite a statewide loss of 400 construction industry jobs in March - during an extended winter season - Michigan, and most of the rest of the country, are still positioned for a fairly strong 2019.

 "Although construction has added jobs in many states at a higher rate than the private sector as a whole in the past year, the record number of job openings at the end of February shows contractors would add even more workers if they could," stated AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. "There is no sign of a let-up in the demand for construction workers."

The report showed that Michigan employed 172,400 workers in the construction industry at the end of March, compared to 168,000 workers 12 months prior.  

Texas (+28,300 jobs) California (+24,500 jobs) and Florida (+24,100 jobs) enjoyed the greatest increases in construction employment during that 12-month period.