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.

Read the rest here.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.