According to a recent report from the Office of Economic Opportunity, Arizona’s private sector added over 75,000 jobs in 2018, and over a quarter of those jobs were in construction.
Office of Economic Opportunity representative Doug Walls explains that part of this increase in jobs can be attributed to the state’s strong population growth rate. With the fourth largest population growth rate last year – as both a percentage and flat numbers – Arizona is attracting more people from other states and abroad every year. Consequently, the demand for residential housing to accommodate these migrants has risen.
“The other thing we saw was that home ownership rates have been going down for several years, peaking before the recession,” Walls continues. “But over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in that. What could have happened was some pent-up demand from that recession where people were willing to or able to purchase houses and were holding off — now we’re seeing a pretty big swing in that trend and seeing more people willing to invest and purchase their own homes.”
Nevertheless, employment in construction has yet to reach its pre-recession levels. Before the recession, the industry featured roughly 247,500 jobs; presently, the industry has 175,100 jobs.
Because the baby boomer population is rapidly retiring, construction companies have faced an increasing problem with job vacancies this decade on top of their efforts to recover from the 2008 recession. These companies are even facing roadblocks in hiring a younger population, as parents emphasize the importance of a college education as well as past instability of construction employment.
In fact, to combat this problem, some companies are developing and utilizing construction simulators – machines that mimic activities through realistic components – as recruitment tools for the younger population.
Consequently, the industry still has room for growth. Employment levels in construction have remained on a positive trajectory for the past few years, according to Walls. And with these new recruitment techniques, this trajectory will likely remain constant. “We’ve seen a pretty sustained and moderate growth, and as people become more confident and business activities pick up, we’ll see that growth increase,” he said.
To Walls’s point, the consumer sentiment index reached its highest point in a decade and a half last month. With more confidence and higher wages due to the strength of the economy, it is likely that citizens will employ more construction workers for home renovations and other construction projects.