A Worker Shortage in Construction is Good News for Job Seekers

2018 is a great time to look for a new job, in almost every industry. Unemployment recently hit a 17 year low, and the number of job openings surpassed 6 million. These labor market trends are a strong indication that job seekers shouldn’t have too much trouble finding great career opportunities. And in some industries, those opportunities are even better than average. Here, we’re taking a closer look at the opportunity index – which looks at the ratio of open jobs to job seekers – for the construction industry. It’s one of the top fields where we’re seeing a trend of increasing opportunity in 2018.

An Industry on the Rise

Looking at ZipRecruiter data, we see that the opportunity index for construction has nearly doubled over the past two years. Since February 2017, we’ve seen a consistent trend of steady upward growth.

A rising opportunity index means that more jobs are becoming available than there are workers. In other words, a worker shortage has been created. This is actually great news for job seekers. With more open positions becoming available, job seekers could have a better chance of quickly landing a job.

The Best Cities for Construction Jobs

If you’re interested in getting a job in the high-opportunity construction industry, keep in mind that not all job markets are created equal. The chart above shows the opportunity index for construction across the U.S., but some cities and towns have a much higher opportunity index than others.

Here are the top 10 MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) for construction jobs:

MSAOpportunity Index
Hot Springs, AR4.1
Rapid City, SD2.8
Elmira, NY1.6
Kokomo, IN1.4
La Crosse, WI-MN1.4
Salisbury, MD1.3
Duluth, MN-WI1.3
Chico, CA1.3
Portland, ME
Bay City, MI1.2

The city with the highest opportunity index for construction is Hot Springs, Arkansas. The other top cities are scattered throughout the Rust Belt and northeast, with two of the top 10 cities located in South Dakota and California. One thing all ten of these cities have in common is their general size. The populations of these cities range from around 35,000 people (Hot Springs, AR and Bay City, MI) to just under 100,000 people (Duluth, MN and Chico, CA). They’re not overwhelmingly large metropolitan areas, but they are big enough to satisfy anyone who craves an urban city feel.

The Best Construction Jobs

Once you decide where you’d like to start your construction job search, it’s time to search for specific job titles. We looked to ZipRecruiter data to find the specific jobs with the biggest worker shortages and thus the highest opportunity indexes. Job seekers might have an easier time getting hired for one of these top 10 opportunity index jobs:

Job Title Opportunity Index
Excavation Laborer4.5
Water Restoration Technician2.8
Traffic Control Specialist2.3
Master Plumber1.4
Mixer Driver1.4
Truss Designer1.1
Truss Assembler0.91
Roofing Laborer0.86
Gutter Installer0.84

The job title with the highest worker shortage by far is Excavation Laborer. Job seekers should also be able to find plenty of open Water Restoration Technician, Traffic Control Specialist, and Master Plumber positions.

A Smarter Way to Search for Construction Jobs

Searching for a new job is never easy, even with low unemployment and millions of jobs available. But there are ways to be smarter about your job search and find the right opportunities more easily. If you’re looking for a position in construction, try starting with the cities and jobs with the highest opportunity indexes. It just might help you find the right job, and get hired faster.

Written by

Amelia Ohm is a Los Angeles-based writer who covered labor market trends for the ZipRecruiter blog.

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