Women Embrace Construction & Demolition Industry Jobs

female construction workerIt is no secret that the construction industry is facing a labor shortage that has already begun to impact industrial demolition companies in Portland. This shortage comes in the midst of a construction and demolition boom.

However, more women are turning to the construction and demolition industry to pursue high-paying and rewarding careers. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that, though still far from equitable, “women in construction earn an average of 95.7% of what men make—an 18% pay bump compared to other industries.”

Construction & Demolition Industry Labor Shortages

During the 2008 recession, 1.5 million residential construction workers left the industry. Some changed careers and some retired.  Despite the rapid growth in recent years of the country’s construction and demolition industry, there continues to be a persistent shortage in labor. The lack of skilled workers and a narrow talent pipeline are just two factors that stimey further growth increases.

women in construction stats

Randy Strauss, owner of Strauss Construction in Amherst, Ohio said, “The number one issue is the cost and availability of labor.” Concern over this issue is reflected in a recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) report. 82 percent of NAHB’s members believe that the high costs and unavailability of skilled labor are their biggest problems. This contrasts sharply to 2011 in which only 13 percent named the cost of labor as their biggest concern.

Despite recent tax reform and regulatory rollbacks increasing optimism, a number of construction and demolition companies are wondering where they’ll find more skilled labor. This trickles down the pipeline, leaving home and commercial builders struggling to meet deadlines.

C&D Industry Opportunities for Women

Women are an often overlooked group when it comes to sources of labor for the construction and demolition industry. Women make up less than 3% of the construction workforce, which includes all the building trades, from hands-on jobs like carpentry to electrical work and management. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if only twice as many women worked in the field the industry’s labor shortage would be all but solved.

women in construction facts

Ariane Hegewisch, IWPR Program Director on Employment & Earnings, said, “The industry still has more work to do to attract and retain women in these jobs and create a work environment that is welcoming to all workers, regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity. Women-focused pre-apprenticeship programs and tradeswomen organizations are doing great work to help the industry adapt to a changing future of work.”

There are some government grants programs for women, including the WANTO Grant Program which is set up “to expand pathways for women to enter and lead in all industries.” Grants are awarded to up to six community-based organizations designed to get women into nontraditional fields.

Slowly the perception of the construction industry is changing and more and more organizations, schools, and unions are working to provide support for women in the trades. In fact, in 2018, the share of women working in the trades was the highest it had been since 1998.


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