Chart of the Day: Construction vs. Non-Construction Employment

Here’s a chart from the Big Picture, an economics blog, about how slow the construction sector has been to rebound from the 2008 housing crisis.

Chart showing slow growth in the construction industry

Here’s the take on the data:

The relatively weak recovery in construction employment is interesting for at least two reasons: First, construction work is a source of relatively high-wage jobs that do not require a college education, which have been in increasingly short supply as the job market becomes more polarized (Autor and Dorn 2013, e.g.).3 The housing bust appears to have exacerbated this polarization: As I discuss below, average real income has fallen by nearly 13 percent among workers who are relatively likely to be construction workers.

Second, many builders and contractors have reported difficulty finding new workers.4 The macroeconomic evidence for this story is mixed. Average wages in the construction sector have not been rising appreciably faster than for other workers. However, at the end of 2014, the average employed construction worker was working the most hours per week on record. This fact, combined with the anecdotes and survey evidence, suggests that low construction employment could be, at least in part, a symptom of a relatively tight supply of construction workers, rather than fully a consequence of low demand for new homes.

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One Response to Chart of the Day: Construction vs. Non-Construction Employment

  1. Matt March 6, 2015 at 7:23 am #

    I am curious of their definition of “construction” jobs as I work in the solar industry but much of our work is actually “construction”. How these jobs are being classified would be an interesting topic.

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