The construction industry is the beating heart of almost every major city in the world — hence why construction industry statistics are so revealing. They also take us on an incredible journey, exploring how the building sector influences not just the US but the global economy as well.
Not to mention that the buildings around us help shape our lifestyle, economy, and environment.
Last but not least, construction jobs are evolving; changing not only in size but also in structure as the building sector embraces new trends and challenges. In short, there’s more to this industry than meets the eye.
Keep on reading and be the first to discover it all!
Most Intriguing Construction Industry Facts (Editor’s Pick):
- San Francisco is the most expensive US city to build in.
- 1.2 million new housing units are planned every year in the US.
- The commercial construction sector has recorded an 8% annual growth between 2014–2019.
- 90% of US contractors are worried about a possible labor shortage.
- The construction industry in the US has an average annual expenditure of $1,231 billion.
- In 2019, the construction industry generated $2 trillion in revenue in the US.
- 52% of construction workers in the US were born between 1960–1979.
- Construction managers invest only 2% of their budget on IT.
Construction Employment Statistics in the US
Construction has always played a huge part in the US economy. Not only is the sector constantly experiencing growth but it is also one of the most significant employers in the country. Ultimately, if there’s one thing that stands out it’s that the US has built its financial stability thanks to this industry.
- There are currently 10.2 million construction workers in the US
With around 131.39 million full-time employed individuals in the US as of November 2019, it’s fair to say that the US construction market plays a major role in the country’s overall economy; almost 8% of the entire full-time working population is in the building sector.
- 90% of US general contractors are worried about a possible labor shortage
Yes, you read it right. Even though the construction sector has around 8% of the total US workforce, 9 out of 10 contractors are concerned about a possible labor shortage.
In other words, there’s a lot more demand for construction jobs and not enough people in the building sector. Yet, how is that possible? Read the next stat:
- 57% of contractors have trouble finding skilled workers
Of the overall number of construction workers in the US, there’s still a shortage of sufficiently skilled workers. For contractors, this is a huge deal as it means delaying numerous construction plans, rising construction costs, and, of course, having to take in unskilled workers instead.
What’s more, budget cuts affect skill development opportunities, which means fewer people have the chance to train extensively for construction jobs.
- Only 15% of construction firms have 1,000 employees or more, the latest construction industry data reveals
Let that sink in.
A little over 1 in 10 construction companies have more than 1,000 employees, which speaks volumes in itself. Again, this is but another example of the above-mentioned labor shortage; people simply can’t find the skills they need in-house.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop the construction industry from making up a significant chunk of the total US GDP.
US Construction Market — The Numbers
- The construction industry represents 4.1% of the total US GDP
While it might not seem like much, it makes the US one of the largest construction markets in the world.
If you are wondering what it means in terms of actual dollars, check out the figure below:
- The construction industry in the US has an average annual expenditure of $1,231 billion
Indeed, US construction expenditures are one of the most substantial in the world; China is perhaps the only other country that can surpass such ludicrous figures. Still, you have to keep the differing costs of labor and materials in mind.
- The US construction industry revenue reached $2 trillion in 2019
If you can’t visualize 2 trillion dollars in your mind, you’re not the only one. But the fact remains: the construction sector has performed astonishingly well in the 2014–2019 period. Ultimately, despite the skilled labor shortage, the stats indicate that the sector is still growing.
- Stats reveal that Bechtel is one of the largest US construction companies
With annual revenue of over $25.5 billion, the San Francisco-headquartered contractor has become one of the largest American construction companies. It is followed by Skanska ($16.39 billion) and D.R. Horton, which recorded a whopping $15.73 billion in revenue.
Bechtel’s leading spot might explain the following US construction industry statistics:
- San Francisco is the most expensive US city to build in
(Turner and Townsend)
Indeed, as of 2019, San Francisco recorded a solid 5% increase in construction expenses compared to 2018; making it officially the costliest US city for construction, beating the previous record-holder — New York City.
- 1.2 million new housing units are planned every year, residential construction statistics reveal
The housing sector is still going strong. The government’s commitment to provide a boost for the construction industry and drive job opportunities has paid off, encouraging new housing projects including many affordable housing construction programs.
- Last year, the annual residential construction revenue hit the $89 billion mark
While new home construction isn’t the largest construction sector, it drives communities and the local economy. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that residential projects play only a minor role in overall construction projects; as the following commercial construction statistics reveal:
- The commercial construction revenue hit the $235 billion mark last year
Here, the government’s efforts to support economic growth and encourage construction projects were met with even more success. So much so that:
- There was an 8% annual growth in commercial construction between 2014–2019
Ultimately, the revenue from commercial construction has not only encouraged more commercial projects but has also boosted the local economy by supporting consumer demand.
US Construction Worker Demographics
Indeed, with increasing concerns about racial, gender, and age discrimination in the workplace, it’s interesting to see how the population in the construction sector is divided.
- 30% of US construction workers identify as Hispanic or Latino
That’s nearly one-third of the entire construction workforce which is surprising as the Hispanic and Latino population accounts for only 16.7% of the country’s population. Contractors explain these disparities both through immigration and the belief that the construction industry doesn’t pay well — which in turn fails to attract a more diverse population.
Disparities, however, carry on and cover many demographic factors, such as gender.
- Less than 10% of construction workers are women
Indeed, construction worker demographics continue to show disparities with only 9.9% of female construction workers (9 out of 10 workers are male). Overall, contractors agree that the lack of skill opportunities and professional advising in high school can accentuate the phenomenon.
- 13% of construction firms are owned by women
While the demographics reveal a predominantly male population, it’s encouraging to see that women are more heavily represented in decision-making roles. This allows them to change things directly from the top and hopefully influence the future of the construction industry.
Speaking of the future, construction employment statistics remain bleak:
- 52% of construction workers were born between 1960–1979
In other words, over half of the workforce in the construction industry is aged 40 or over. It’s a dangerously aging sector, especially when you consider that Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — comprise the largest segment in the current workplace. When it comes to the construction sector, the typical worker is in his 40s, 50s, 60s, or even 70s.
Simply put, young people are not interested in joining construction firms, which means that the labor shortage is likely to increase in the near future.
- Washington is the best state for construction jobs, according to the latest construction trends in the US
What entails the best state for construction workers? It’s a state that combines the best possible opportunities in terms of real population growth, real construction GDP growth, employment, and construction wages. Luckily, the state of Washington offers just that.
- 20% of all US construction projects occur in just 5 cities
As surprising as it might sound, one-fifth of all construction projects happen in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and New York City. Therefore, contractors are more likely to find pockets of workers in those locations than in other cities.
Global Construction Spending Stats and Facts
The construction sector is continually changing and adapting to new needs and demands. As such, global construction investments show no sign of slowing down. Still, new technology could transform the field dramatically.
- The global construction-related spending equals roughly 13% of the world’s GDP
While it might not seem like much, it’s a fairly significant figure that indicates the importance of the construction industry at a global level.
- The global construction costs are expected to rise by 4.3%
(Turner and Townsand)
While it might sound promising, it doesn’t necessarily mean more global construction jobs. In reality, the cost of materials combined with the labor shortage affects construction investments the most.
- 80% of global contractors can’t find workers
Although it’s reassuring to know that it’s not just a US-only problem, 8 out of 10 global contractors are finding it difficult to recruit new workers.
- 66% of all global regions experience skill shortages
(Turner and Townsend)
With two-thirds of all global construction regions having difficulties finding and securing experienced staff, it’s easy to understand how the cost of construction can literally go through the roof.
Which brings us to our next stat:
- 90% of global infrastructure projects are either over-budget or delayed, according to global construction industry statistics
A whopping 9 out of 10 projects are likely to run high expenses, either because they were delayed or because they were over-budget from the start.
- By 2021, global revenues are expected to grow to $24,335 billion CAGR
(PR News Wire)
This impressive figure is the combination of a growing economy in emerging countries, infrastructure development, and increasing government investment.
Although only a rough estimate, thanks to the recent development of many innovative trends, the global construction sector could yet experience the said boost.
- BIM is one of the biggest construction industry trends as of now
Indeed, 82% of contractors consider BIM — Building Information Modeling — the future of project information in the construction world. The idea is that by using BIM tools, construction contractors can save on both time and cost.
However, there’s still a lot of work to do:
- 70% of contractors worry that BMI isn’t sufficiently standardized
An alarming 70% of contractors are concerned about the lack of standardization of BMI tools across the industry, which could potentially lead to confusion, unnecessary delays, budget errors, and worker mistakes, construction industry statistics suggest.
- 37% of construction firms experiment with drones
Drone experimentation allows for a better perspective on large-scale projects. Additionally, drone imagery can also be combined with 3D modeling to help compare progression and identify potential obstacles.
Unfortunately, not every company is ready to innovate:
- Construction managers spend only 2% of their budget on IT
With such insignificant IT investment, it’s fair to say that BIM software and other innovative construction technologies are a distant dream for many a firm. The lack of investment and dedicated staff makes it hard for companies to adopt new technology safely, according to general building stats and facts.
Safety Challenges in the Construction Industry
As previously mentioned, one of the most crucial aspects is the adoption of new technology. Nevertheless, safety issues remain a priority in the construction sector.
- 64% of fatalities in the construction industry are caused by the “Fatal Four”
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The Fatal Four — falls, electrocution, being crushed, and being struck by an object — account for almost two-thirds of all construction fatalities. According to recent building statistics, contractors mostly blame the lack of training, unskilled workers, and budget cuts for these accidents.
- 35% of construction time is spent on non-productive activities
Wasting time remains a major problem. Construction workers claim to waste over a third of their time in conflict resolution, gathering project information, and correcting mistakes. The introduction of innovative technology could help reduce non-productive costs and improve efficiency.
In conclusion, construction industry statistics reveal a booming sector that is growing both globally and in the US. What’s more, this industry must find new ways to boost efficiency and cut overhead costs to supplement the ever-growing labor shortage.
In addition, there’s still considerable racial, gender, and age disparities within the industry; luckily, with the advent of new technology, this is subject to change!