Job opportunities are expected to be excellent in the construction industry, especially for workers with training and experience in construction occupations, due largely to the numerous openings arising each year as experienced construction workers leave their jobs. Further, many potential workers may prefer work that is less strenuous and has more comfortable working conditions. The continued shortage of adequate training programs also will contribute to the favorable job market.
The number of wage and salary jobs in the construction industry is expected to grow about 15 percent through the year 2012, compared with the 16 percent projected for all industries combined. Employment in this industry depends primarily on the level of construction and remodeling activity. New construction is usually cut back during periods when the economy is not expanding, and the number of job openings in construction fluctuates greatly from year to year. Employment growth in the various segments of the construction industry varies somewhat, depending on the demand for various types of construction. At times, there may be a high demand for new office space or housing, for example, but lower demand for road construction or remodeling work.
Although household growth may slow slightly over the coming decade, the demand for residential construction is expected to continue to grow. The demand for larger homes with more amenities, as well as for second homes, will continue to rise, especially as the baby boomers reach their peak earning years and can afford to spend more on housing. Some older, more affluent baby boomers will want townhouses and condominiums in conveniently located suburban and urban settings. At the same time, as the number of immigrants increases and as the "echo boomers" (the children of the baby boomers) start to replace the smaller "baby bust" generation in the young adult age groups, the demand for manufactured housing, starter homes, and rental apartments also is expected to increase.
Employment is expected to grow in nonresidential construction because replacement of many industrial plants has been delayed for years, and a large number of structures will have to be replaced or remodeled. Construction of nursing homes, convalescent homes, and other extended care institutions also will increase due to the aging of the population, the growing use of high-technology medical treatment facilities, and the need for more drug treatment clinics. Construction of schools will increase to accommodate the children of the baby boom generation.
Employment in heavy and civil engineering construction is projected to increase due to growth in highway, bridge, and street construction, as well as in maintenance and repairs to prevent further deterioration of the Nation’s highways and bridges.
Employment in specialty trades contracting, the largest segment of the industry, should grow as demand for contractors in building and heavy construction rises and as more workers are needed to repair and remodel existing homes. Home improvement and repair construction is expected to continue to grow faster than new home construction. Remodeling should be the fastest growing sector of the housing industry because of a growing stock of old residential and nonresidential buildings. Many “starter” units will be remodeled to appeal to more affluent, space- and amenity-hungry buyers. Also, some of the demand from the trade-up market may result in remodeling and additions rather than the construction of new, larger homes. Remodeling tends to be more labor-intensive than new construction.
Employment growth will differ among various occupations in the construction industry. Employment of construction managers is expected to grow as a result of advances in building materials and construction methods, as well as a proliferation of laws dealing with building construction, worker safety, and environmental issues. construction managers who have a bachelor’s degree in construction science with an emphasis on construction management, and who acquire work experience in construction management services firms, should enjoy an especially favorable job outlook. Employment growth of administrative support occupations will be limited by increased office automation.
Although employment in construction trades as a whole is expected to grow about as fast as the industry average, the rate of growth will vary by trade. Employment of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers; electricians; sheet metal workers; and heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers should grow faster than the industry average because technological changes are not expected to offset increases in employment demand as construction activity grows. On the other hand, employment of construction equipment operators; construction laborers; and boilermakers is expected to grow more slowly than that of the construction industry as a whole because greater use of new equipment will make workers more efficient.