Construction Jobs Are at Their Lowest Level Since 1946

Someday we're going to need more construction workers. Today is not that day.

One of the no-good, just plain awful nuggets in Friday's no-good, just plain awful jobs report was the news that the economy shed 28,000 construction jobs in May. That brought the share of construction workers in the workforce down to 4.14 percent. As Jed Kolko of Trulia pointed out, this is the lowest level since July of 1946.

The chart below shows the depressing picture. (Remember: This is about the share of construction jobs out of the total number of jobs. The y-axis shows this percentage and the x-axis shows the relevant years).

Construction.png


Eventually, things will turn around. It might even be soon. As bizarre as it sounds, we actually have a housing shortage now -- especially in multifamily units. We're already starting to see a rebound in building permits, but that's from an admittedly low base.

But even if there's a nascent recovery, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do more. It bears repeating: Constructions jobs are at their lowest level since we demobilized from the biggest war in history. With our borrowing costs at historically low levels, maybe we should hire some unemployed construction workers and have them, you know, make stuff.

But that's just crazy talk -- crazy talk you'd find in every introductory economics textbook.
Presented by

Matthew O'Brien

Matthew O'Brien is a former senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Business

Just In