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Women in Construction: Employment Reaches Pre-Recession Levels

September 14, 2020

The number of women employed in the construction industry grew substantially in 2018 rising to 1.1 million, a total reached prior to the Great Recession. As the construction skilled labor shortage remains a key challenge, adding new workers is an important goal of the industry. Bringing additional women into the construction labor force could represent a potential opportunity for the future.

During the Great Recession, the number of females in construction declined sharply by almost 30% to 807,000 by 2010. From 2010 to 2017, the total slowly remained to around 970,000, but remained below the peak of pre-recession levels. However, in 2018, 1.1 million women worked in the construction industry, up by 13% from 2017, roughly matching the number of women in the industry before the Great Recession.

Overall, the share of women in construction remained relatively stable within the 8.9% -9.7% range since 2002. It increased to 9.9% in 2018. According to the Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, women in the construction industry are mostly involved in such occupations as office and administrative support, management, business and financial operations. Sales and office occupations employed the largest number of women within the construction industry. In construction, women accounted for 73.5% of workers in sales and office occupations, including 464,000 women in office and administrative support, and 26,000 in sales and related occupations in 2018. More than 350,000 women were engaged in management, professional, and related occupations.

While construction and maintenance occupations account for the largest number of employees in construction, and where additional workers are needed, women comprised only 3% of the labor force. Other groups such as production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and service occupations employed only around 10,000 female workers.

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