Construction Makes a Comeback

by Will Summers

April 20, 2017

Employment in the Mid-Valley construction industry grown steadily as demand for housing has grown since the recession of 2007 to 2009. When that recession hit, many builders and developers found they had homes they could not sell. It took years to work off that inventory. Now that the economy is growing again and more people are moving into the area, demand for homes is growing and the demand for employees to build those homes is growing too. Finding employees with the skills and experience needed has become a challenge for employers in the area.
A profile of difficult-to-fill vacancies in Oregon’s construction firms, in a recent article titled Increasing Difficulty Filling Vacancies in Oregon’s Labor Market illustrates these challenges. The industry had roughly 2,800 difficult-to-fill vacancies in 2015. In addition, construction businesses were more likely to cite a lack of work experience as the primary reason for difficulty filling vacancies than other industries. Work experience was the primary challenge for one out of 10 difficult-to-fill vacancies statewide, but accounted for nearly one out of five difficult-to-fill vacancies in construction.

Construction employers also reported much higher average hourly wages – more than an additional $5 per hour – for difficult-to-fill vacancies than for vacancies filled without difficulty. That differed from health care and leisure and hospitality, where difficult-to-fill vacancies showed little in terms of additional wages. This reflects the difference in occupations with vacancies among these industries. All occupations with at least 100 difficult-to-fill vacancies in leisure and hospitality paid $11 per hour or less, while the construction occupations with at least 100 difficult-to-fill vacancies paid average wages between $12.76 and $33.38. The large majority (85%) of difficult construction vacancies also required previous work experience.

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