As our world emerges from the pandemic, many young people are left wondering about their futures in the workforce. Well, some recent numbers might help paint a clearer picture. 

Nationwide, The Construction industry hired 298,000 workers in Jan. 2022, with 305,000 separations( firings or quits). This left around 7,000 net job openings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) summary.  At a separation rate of 4.1%, the construction industry is about average and well below many other industries in terms of turnover. 

Job openings in the construction industry have steadily increased since Jan. 2021, when there were about 299,000 openings. In Dec. 2021, there were 359,000 openings, and in January of this year, that figure jumped to 380,000 jobs. The 380,000 figure represents a job openings rate of about 4.8%. While this is lower than the all-industry average of 7%, according to JOLT data, the average is at least partially skewed by the hospitality and food services industries, which saw large-scale separations in the same time frame. Additionally, now that businesses are returning to pre-pandemic operations, we can expect construction companies to require all hands on deck. 

While college is right for many young people, nationwide we’re seeing more and more students looking to the trades as their path to the future. The National Student Clearinghouse found that higher education institutions experienced an over 1 million-student decline since the onset of the pandemic. College enrollment has been steadily declining since 2015 when undergraduate enrollment was at about 16.8 million students versus the fall 2021 semester, which saw 14.4 million students enrolled. However, a National Public Radio story published March 20, 2022, points out that some community college programs in construction, HVAC and automotive repair are seeing enrollment increases as high as 40%.

At the legislative level, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives with their recent passage of their 2022 omnibus bill earmarked $213.6 billion for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. This figure is about $15 billion or 7.7% above the 2021 figure. Under the bill’s umbrella, high school career and technical education(CTE) courses that create career-track opportunities in construction and manufacturing fields for students stand to benefit from the allocation. So if you have a high schooler at home who doesn’t know what they want to do after they graduate, it might be worth checking their school’s CTE offerings.