RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Federal labor data shows there are close to 500,000 job openings in the construction industry.
Those positions are crucial in helping build the Triangle’s much-needed homes.
“You can see as you drive around the Triangle that construction is booming,” said Ilina Ewen with Samet Corporation.
While there may be plenty of jobs in construction, there are not enough people to fill them.
Over the last year, the Association of General Contractors said construction firms saw a 40 percent decline in experienced job seekers.
The number of openings in the field is at a 22-year high.
“We are chipping away at this issue. I just wish we were able to make more ground because we are losing more people than we’re gaining them,” said David Price who owns David Price Construction.
Price’s remodeling company has struggled to keep project managers and carpenters on staff.
“If I’m able to hire a carpenter- if I can find one who’s actually got the skill level we need for the types of projects we do and bring on one or two more guys- yeah we could probably pick up more work and get moving on things a little bit quicker,” said Price.
More workers won’t solve the housing crunch. There are still issues with delayed permitting and supply deliveries.
Price and other companies like Samet Corporation are doing their part to increase the workforce.
“When we show imagery of construction, we show men. We show big, burly men. We don’t really show women in this field,” said Ewen.
Ewen said Samet is working to recruit women to the industry by offering paid internships and paid leave. They want to change the stigma of what it is to work in construction.
“People don’t consider construction when they think about STEM careers but in fact, there are a lot of STEM opportunities in construction. It’s a highly technical field,” said Ewen.
As president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, Price is also working to expose high school students to technical careers. He said going to a technical school can often get students through school faster with lower debt and high income.
The work is paying off with some gains in employment but more work is certainly ahead.
“That’s not enough to fill the workforce. They’re taken immediately and still there’s a huge deficit,” said Price.
Construction jobs in the Triangle saw small but encouraging increases. Fayetteville saw their count of constriction employees go up 6 percent from May 2021 to May 2022.
The metro area added 3,000 workers during that time frame. The Raleigh area added 2,000 new construction workers in that same time frame for an increase of 5 percent.
Throughout all of North Carolina, the Greensboro-High Point area has experienced struggles with keeping employees. The area lost 200 employees in the construction field. It translated into a 1 percent drop in construction employees.
Greenville saw even steeper drops with an 8 percent loss in construction employees. At least 300 people there left the industry.