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Number of Women in Construction Grows

Close up of a female construction worker holding a hard hat
Women comprise about 10.9% of the construction workforce despite the industry losing 587,000 jobs last year.

The number of women employed in the construction industry rose to around 1.17 million workers in 2020—about 10.9% of the construction workforce (10.3% in 2019)—according to NAHB analysis of labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey.

This is despite the construction industry losing 587,000 jobs in 2020. 

Nearly half of all trade business owners believe the current labor shortage is stunting their growth, according to Angi’s 2020 Skilled Trades in America report. 

In roofing/siding businesses, more than 65% of owners are concerned about the shortage of skilled labor which, although is low compared to other skilled trades, is still a significant percentage of the workforce, Mischa Fisher, the chief economist for Angi Inc., told Roofing & Exteriors.

"Inadequate training programs, poor educational pipelines, the big drop in new construction following the great recession, and a cultural focus on white-collar work over skilled trades, have all contributed to a shortage of people entering the trades for years," Fisher said.

Back in August, Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) re-introduced the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act, legislation that would help alleviate the worker shortage in the construction industry by establishing a market-driven visa system to help employers find more laborers. 

Bringing additional women into the construction labor force represents an opportunity to fill many of those vacancies—an important goal for the industry, said NAHB, which hosted a podcast designed to inspire women to join the trades during the association's Professional Women in Building Week

During the Great Recession, the number of female construction workers declined sharply by almost 30% to 807,000 by 2010, according to NAHB Economist Na Zhao, who analyzed the CPS data.

From 2010 to 2017, the total slowly expanded to around 970,000 but remained below the peak of pre-recession levels, Zhao pointed out. 

The number of women working in construction increased to 1.17 million in 2020, edged up by 0.4% in 2020 during the pandemic, the data shows.

According to the Current Population Survey, women in construction are mainly in office/administrative support, management, business and financial operations positions. 

Women accounted for 69% of workers in sales and office occupations, including 444,000 women in office and administrative support, and 32,000 in sales and related occupations in 2020, according to the data.  

Around 398,000 women were engaged in management, professional, and related occupations, the survey showed. 

Some, like Jen Silver, own their own business.

"I wanted to get into outside sales in a stable industry and construction seemed like a good fit, to learn the industry I took a job as an inside sales rep for SRS and went from there," said Silver, who broke into the industry in 2017 and founded Roofing Utah two years later. 

"You can’t work with a better group of people than those in the construction industry," said Stacey Beers, CFO of Pacific InterWest Building Consultants

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