Bloomberg reports today that a workforce shortage represents a cloud hanging over the president’s proposed infrastructure investment.
Companies including AECOM, Skanska USA and Turner Construction say the industry is hard-pressed to find enough people for current openings, let alone with the expansion Trump envisions with an additional $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. And though its full impact isn’t clear, rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Harvey are likely to increase the demand for workers in the coming years.
The industry’s concerns are familiar ones. We’ve frequently written about the challenges employer’s face as they attempt to recruit skilled employees. Our 2017 foundation report update pointed out,
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Washington Roundtable estimate that there will be 740,000 job openings in Washington in the next five years.4 Job growth here is expected to exceed the state historical growth rate and be nearly three times the national average. BCG classifies these openings into three categories based on median income and opportunity for upward mobility—Career Jobs, Pathway Jobs, and Entry-Level Jobs.
Increasingly, the majority of jobs in Washington will be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential (such as a technical or industry certificate, apprenticeship, or degree). Today, just 31 percent of Washington high school students go on to attain such a credential by the age of 26. The mismatch between workforce readiness and job openings hampers our collective ability to take advantage of the potential economic growth that lies ahead.
AECOM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Burke said his company aims to fill more than 3,000 positions in the United States and Canada this year in anticipation of more infrastructure spending. The firm is partnering with the Los Angeles Community College District to help prepare students for infrastructure-related jobs.
And it’s only getting tougher.
A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America released Tuesday showed that 70 percent of construction firms are having a hard time finding qualified workers, and 67 percent predict the difficulty will continue or worsen during the next 12 months.
As the National Association of Manufacturers today writes, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has revised its estimate of real GDP growth for the second quarter to 3.0 percent. NAM economist Chad Moutray writes,
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that the U.S. economy grew by an annualized 3.0 percent in the second quarter, revised up from an earlier estimate of 2.6 percent. This was also an improvement from the 1.2 percent growth rate seen in the first quarter. As a result, the real GDP increased by 2.1 percent at the annual rate in the first half of 2017. For the year a whole, I am currently predicting real GDP growth of 2.2 percent, with 2.8 percent growth for the current third quarter. This is not far from the 2.1 percent average growth rate seen since the Great Recession, but I continue to believe that there is upward potential in the forecast, especially for 2018, if pro-growth policies are enacted.
We’re also included to believe in upward potential. And we recognize that pro-growth policies must include adequate training and education to make sure when employers are ready to invest and hire they have access to the workforce required to build the economy.