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The U.S. Construction Labor Shortage Is Creating ‘Increasingly Lucrative Career Paths’ For Those Who Want To ‘Work With Their Hands’ Or ‘Don’t Want To Go’ To College

Published Thursday, January 3, 2019
by Jim Morrison/Forbes
The U.S. Construction Labor Shortage Is Creating ‘Increasingly Lucrative Career Paths’ For Those Who Want To ‘Work With Their Hands’ Or ‘Don’t Want To Go’ To College

College isn’t for everyone and there are strong reasons to support students who decide to opt out of the college track and get jobs in the Trades.

2017 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found between 1991-2015: “Good jobs in non-manufacturing Blue Collar industries, such as construction and transportation, increased in 38 states.  North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah experienced the most robust job growth in non-manufacturing blue collar industries, as well as in the total number of Blue Collar jobs.”

However, the growth has been uneven.

The study says 12 states - particularly in the Northeast - lost those kinds of good jobs, while California, Texas and Florida have had the largest gains.

The study says there are 3,477,000 people have good-paying construction jobs in the U.S. and earn a median salary of $59,000. 

Bob Ernst, who serves a President of FBN Construction, a high-end construction firm in Boston, said the labor shortage has forced him to increase salaries to retain good talent: “We’ve had to increase salaries significantly in the last five years.  We generally do what we have to do to keep them.  Some of our skilled Carpenters are making ($80,000 to $110,000) a year.”

Worse, Ernst said the workforce skews heavily toward middle-aged people and there aren’t enough young people getting into the Trades to eventually replace them.

As the labor shortage intensifies, it will push salaries even higher

"We have management level positions made up of people who came from the Trades and learned how to run projects,” Ernst said. “There is a career path.  One of the reasons I grew FBN is to create a vertical ladder for my Employees to climb.” 

Construction managers earn $101,000 annually on average, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).

On the flip side, bachelor's degree now costs more than $100,000, on average, sometimes much more.  

And in 2016, 42% of graduates borrowed money to pay for college, according to the Federal Reserve.  On average, those students graduated owing between $20,000 and $25,000 and many grads are still paying these loans off well into their 30s.

A student who enters the Trades right out of high school will have no student debt and four (or more) years’ work experience when their college-bound classmates are ready to enter the workforce. 

With a little ambition and a little luck, they could have enough experience to move into the management side of the business before the physical work takes its toll on their body.

To Read This Labor News Story In Its Entirety, Go To: www.forbes.com/sites/jimmorrison/2018/08/05/construction-labor-shortage-creates-increasingly-lucrative-career-paths/?fbclid=IwAR1adRsLA_KVC-gXChX2dah_lhSOXZ_B9shdWr9Q100s4LNFE-Fo0rrUDS0#2dee4bb34cea

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