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Survey: Construction Workers Aging

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Survey: Construction Workers Aging

A closer look at construction sector data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 survey 


By Michael Chamernik, Associate Editor February 9, 2016
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This article first appeared in the PB February 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

Data from the United States Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) reveals that the average age for U.S. workers in the construction sector is 42—one year older than the average age of the overall workforce.

The 2013 survey even breaks down median ages and differences in age between construction workers and the overall workforce by state. Median ages in construction are higher in the Northeast and Midwest, while Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire skew oldest, with an average age of 45. In Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, and six other states, construction workers are two years older than the median age of the states’ entire workforce.

The states with the youngest median ages are Utah, at 36, and North Dakota, at 38. North and South Dakota are the only states where construction workers are two years younger than the median workforce age.

The survey also includes median ages for workers employed in different jobs in the construction sector. 

Management positions and highly-skilled jobs, such as carpenters and boilermakers, typically have median ages above 40, while those employed as helpers and laborers (roofers, fence erectors, insulation workers) are younger than 40. 

Paperhangers and construction and building inspectors were found to be the oldest. The median age for paperhangers is 53, and is 52 for inspectors. Next oldest is first-line construction supervisors and managers (47), construction managers (47), construction equipment operators (46), and highway maintenance workers (46). Explosives workers are the youngest subcategory, at 31, along with helpers in construction trades, also at 31. 

These figures could be considered a concern for an industry already facing labor shortages. “Given ongoing labor access issues in the industry, attracting the next generation of construction workers will be a challenge the sector will face in the coming years,” Na Zhao, a housing policy economist at the NAHB, wrote in a blog post. 

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