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A new report from the Washington Post calls the construction industry one of the “bright spots” in the recovering labor market, noting that the industry’s addition of 30,000 jobs in December accounted for one-fifth of all jobs added in the U.S. that month.
The Post makes mention of the labor shortage that construction faces. Noting that the industry has lost 2 million workers since 2007 with the sobering fact that their skills, though highly important to construction, don’t translate well to other industries.
Outside of the need for more new homes due to underbuilding since 2006, the Post points out another important reason construction’s recovery is good for the country: the high unemployment rate among young men.
More than a quarter of men 16 to 19 years old are unemployed and nearly 14 percent of those between 20 and 24 are as well. Construction jobs will help in both of those demographics.
There is reason to take caution, however. The industry saw a similar jump last winter and in the spring shed 53,000 jobs. Most experts predict modest growth for the industry through 2013 and even then, no one predicts that construction employment will return to the pre-recession peak of 7 million Americans employed.