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Underrepresented Groups Offer Opportunity to Combat Labor Shortage

In the CMD iSqFt webinar, “Construction 2016: How Sustainable is the Construction Economic Recovery?” several leading construction economists addressed the challenges of the labor shortage in construction and manufacturing. To combat the shortage of skilled labor, economists noted opportunities in increasing technical and vocational training, in addition to recruiting new workers from demographic groups that are underrepresented in the current makeup of the industries.

Kermit Baker, chief economist, American Institute of Architects, presented strategies to rebuild the workforce, including, for example, working to attract more women, who are nearly 50 percent of the workforce, but represent a negligible percentage of workers in construction and manufacturing. “We obviously have to change that if we’re going to rebuild the workforce,” he said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 148.8 million total workers over the age of 16 were employed in the United States during 2015. About 47 percent were women, 11.7 percent black or African American, 5.8 percent Asian, and 16.4 percent Hispanic or Latino.

Looking at the construction industry, 7.7 million workers were employed during 2015, of which 2.7 percent were women, 6.9 percent black or African American, 1.3 percent Asian and 33.3 percent Hispanic or Latino. The BLS does not track demographic information specifically for glaziers, who totaled 47,000 during the year. Within the management segment, construction managers totaled 737,000 during 2015—6.7 percent were women, 3.3 percent black or African American, 3.2 percent Asian, and 12.9 percent Hispanic or Latino.

In manufacturing, 15.3 million people were employed in 2015, and 29.1 percent were women, 9.7 percent black or African American, 6.6 percent Asian, and 16.2 percent Hispanic or Latino. Looking at the 148,000 employees in the glass and glass manufacturing industry, specifically, 21.4 percent were women, 9.7 percent black or African American, 3.6 percent Asian, and 19.6 percent Hispanic or Latino.


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at