NYC Construction Apprenticeship is Bursting with Diversity

The construction apprenticeship programs in New York City are richly diverse, providing consistent opportunities for women and minorities to enter the relatively well-paid construction trades. This is the word from Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, writing in a June 10, 2016 letter to the editor in Crain’s New York Business.

apprenticeshipLaBarbera’s letter comes in response to a May 29, 2016 Crain’s opinion-editorial piece from Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, whose observations prompted an assertion that minorities were not well represented in Brooklyn unions and other labor organizations.

Minorities in Construction

Among the 8,000 union apprentices who work in New York City, 65 percent of them are minorities, LaBarbera reported. With more than 5,200 apprentices consistently working in the city, the interests of women and minorities are well represented, according to LaBarbera.

The current state of opportunity for women and minorities in the New York construction is a significant improvement over conditions in the past. A December, 1993 study by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (Building Barriers: Discrimination in New York’s Construction Trades) concluded that women and minorities were severely underrepresented in the skilled construction trades, with minorities making up 19 percent and women only 1 percent of employees.

The report further noted that in apprenticeship programs, some 28 percent of apprentices were minorities and 3.4 percent were women.

Rising Minority Apprenticeship

The current statistics reported by LaBarbera indicate a significant improvement in numbers for apprenticeships.

Other programs, such as the Edward J. Mallow Initiative for Construction Skills, offer training and apprenticeship opportunities to minorities and women. The organization reports that 87 percent of the referrals it places in apprenticeship programs are African American, Hispanic, and Asian. About 83 percent of those referrals placed in apprenticeships remain in the construction industry and advance through the ranks to attain better positions and improved skills.

Construction Monitor publishes the most up-to-date information on housing starts, construction best practices, and important industry trends. Contact us today for more information on diversity in apprenticeship programs in New York and in other major metropolitan areas around the country.

Are Women Falling Behind in Construction Apprenticeship Positions?

A pervasive stereotype of the construction industry is that it’s a man’s field, where few women are employed and fewer still are welcomed. The unfortunate truth of the matter suggests that this is very much the case: women are significantly underrepresented in construction employment and apprenticeship.

apprenticeshipFalling Behind or Falling Out?

The level of female employment in the construction industry doesn’t specifically show that women are falling behind in employment and apprenticeship positions. Instead, the employment numbers are so low that “falling behind” would almost amount to “falling out.” The daily reality is that women are not making many advancements in the industry, and that female construction employment is not increasing substantially.

This is not the fault of women who are trying to enter the construction trades. In an article in the Washington Post from June 11, 2014, reporter Vickie Elmer noted that construction employment is 97 percent male, a number that has remained unchanged for more than three decades. Elmer based her article on a report from the National Women’s Law Center covering on women’s employment in construction.

When the report was published, women were employed in some 47 percent of all wage and salary jobs in the United States, Elmer noted. In sharp contrast, women accounted for only 2.6 percent of all construction jobs.

Barriers to Employment

The barriers to women’s employment in the industry are significant. On-the-job harassment is a major obstacle that women face in construction. Generalized disrespect or a belief that women are physically unable to handle the rigors of the work is another. Women also face deeply held ideas that the construction industry is simply not a place for women.

In response, many local and national trade organizations are working to provide more opportunities for women in construction, such as the nonprofit Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) and state-level programs such as Minnesota’s Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).

Construction Monitor provides the most recent and most relevant information on the construction industry. Contact us today for more information on employment and apprenticeship in the construction industry and how your business can expand programs to include more skilled women in the building trades.

New Report: Construction Industry Employment on the Rise

After years of uncertainty following the 2008 economic crisis, the construction job market is finally making a recovery. This year, you’ll see an especially promising outlook for construction industry employment.

construction industry employmentMore Construction Firms Hiring

When the national economy took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2008, the construction job market shrank just as dramatically. The rate of construction job openings eventually hit a low of 0.3 percent in April 2009. The low prior to that was in 2005.

Since then, however, the construction industry has been gradually recovering. In 2015, the job openings rate rose to a high of 2.6 percent in March. This year, the situation for construction workers looks even better. January’s rate of 2.7 percent slightly surpassed last year’s high. That’s the highest it’s been since any time after the pre-crisis high of 3.5 percent.

Despite some peaks and valleys over the last few years, the construction industry employment rate is showing a positive trend. Since May of 2013, the rate of hiring has remained above the rate of separations due to quits, layoffs and other causes. You can expect to see new workers entering the industry at a slow but steady rate.

What the Recovery Means for You

While the industry’s recovery is overall good news for your construction firm, it also brings some challenges. Increased demand for highly skilled laborers can make it tough to find the specialists you need. While shortages like this are normal for recovery periods, this one seems more severe than expected.

Carpenters, drywall workers and tile installers, among others, are in short supply. Lack of workers can lead to delays and other scheduling issues. The workers who are available may expect wages higher than you’d planned to pay, potentially causing budgeting issues.

There are ways to avoid these issues, though. Providing training and coaching, hiring workers from other industries, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, and boosting pay and benefits can help you bring in skilled laborers despite the shortage.

For more information on current construction industry employment trends, contact Construction Monitor.

Unemployment in Construction Continues to Decline

The outlook for construction workers is bright as unemployment in construction falls to its lowest point in nearly seven years. Contractors, however, face a number of challenges posed by the abundance of new job openings.

unemployment in constructionMore Firms Hiring Skilled Laborers

The unemployment rate among construction laborers stood at 7 percent in September, according to recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a drop of 0.7 percent from August. While it’s a ways off from the low of 6.2 percent in November 2007, it’s still appreciably lower than the 8.5 percent unemployment rate of September 2013.

Positions opened up in all areas of construction, but specialty trade contractors saw the most gains with 8,800 more jobs available than in August. Among the most in-demand workers are carpenters, concrete workers, sheet metal installers, and glaziers. In addition, some 6,200 jobs were added in building construction.

Gains in heavy-civil engineering construction jobs lagged behind with just 500 new positions opening. The employment outlook for nonresidential building construction workers remained at its August level, an improvement from the recent past when this segment lost jobs.

Competition for Good Workers May Grow

While lower unemployment in construction is an overall good sign for the industry, it also makes finding qualified workers harder. More than 80 percent of firms have trouble filling positions and that number is increasing, according to information from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The result is more resources directed toward recruitment as well as delays when positions aren’t filled on schedule. The Southeast and Gulf states have been particularly affected by the labor shortage.

To compound the problem, fewer future workers are entering construction-related trades and those who are aren’t always getting the training they need. Many contractors have found new graduates from craft training programs aren’t qualified to perform the jobs available.

An October 2014 survey conducted by the AGC found contractors are looking to attract and retain employees by increasing pay, improving benefits packages, and offering the opportunity to earn performance bonuses.

For the latest data on unemployment in construction, contact Construction Monitor.


Midsize Construction Firms Expecting More Growth and Business in Coming Year

The outlook for midsize construction firms in 2015 is optimistic, with almost half believing that the construction sector will expand in the coming year.

construction firm worker In a survey conducted by GE Capital, 47 percent of survey respondents reported that business will be brighter for midsize construction firms in 2015, with growth expected throughout the year.

The survey questioned a total of 59 firms with an average number of 662 employees. Revenue of the firms surveyed averaged nearly $144 million.

The construction firms surveyed expressed high confidence in the growth of the U.S. and local markets, but they weren’t as certain of increases in the global market.

Some 70 percent of the construction companies in the survey indicated that their overall financial picture had improved as of September 2014. This number represents a positive change from March 2014, when 60 percent of the firms had seen better financial results.

In addition to improved revenue, 50 percent of the firms responding to the survey reported they were hiring more people to meet demand.

Survey respondents noted that growth is expected in several specific categories, including the energy sector and office and residential construction. Spending on public works projects, including both new construction and renovation, was seen as the greatest potential area of appreciable growth for midsize construction firms.

Capital expenditures were up for 41 percent of the respondents. They also reported significant areas that could affect growth and profitability in the next year, including:

  • Healthcare costs: Rising costs of healthcare and insurance could significantly cut into many midsize companies’ profits.
  • Uncertainty in government spending: The constant fiscal battles in government will make it difficult to forecast revenue or anticipate government contracts.

The most recent and reliable information on building permits and construction industry trends can be found in Construction Monitor‘s weekly insightful reports, including helpful info for midsize construction firms.

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Factory Construction Shows Growth After Years of Closures

factoryconstructionOnce considered one of America’s mightiest engines for growth, manufacturing has been severely weakened in the last few years by lack of growth, the moving of operations to cheaper overseas facilities, and the economic crisis that left many Americans with reduced spending power. More recent trends, however, suggest that construction of American factories is on the increase across the country, signaling further steps in the recovery of the manufacturing industry. Continue reading Factory Construction Shows Growth After Years of Closures