The construction sector is not only a major contributor to the U.S. but the entire world. With expenditures reaching over $1.2 billion, the U.S. is one of the largest construction markets across the globe. The industry has more than 670,000 employers with over 7 million employees. Additionally, it’s one of the largest customers for manufacturing, mining, and a variety of other services — creating nearly $1.3 trillion worth of structures annually.
Though markets can always ebb and flow, generally, there is plenty of optimism within the construction industry. Here are some major trends to keep an eye out for within the 2019 construction sector:
More women entering the field
According to ArchPaper, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), a group that represents thousands of construction firms and workers nationwide, is launching a new campaign to diversify its predominantly white and male workforce. Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the AGC, plans on introducing professional construction training to high school students in an attempt to entice more women and minorities into the trade in order to better reflect America’s increasingly diverse workforce.
“Times are changing,” said Tanay Matthews, a Brooklyn construction worker with Local 361. “It’s not just a man’s world anymore. I work with about 30 men now. My last job might have been 200.”
Currently, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprise about 9% of the construction workforce.
“Work needs to be done to continue to get the word out to women and young girls that yes, you can do this, this is a career for you,” added Kathleen Culhane, president of Non-Traditional Employment for Women (NEW).
Emphasis on safety
No matter what happens, construction will never be the safest job in the country, especially when compared with conventional office work. Despite its physical risks, however, it’s an essential industry and the work needs to be done. Construction accidents are the obvious culprit, as 15 out of 100,000 construction workers die due to construction-related accidents. But invisible lung diseases are just as dangerous. Since the industry is so dangerous, new technology has been designed to make construction sites, machines, and equipment safer. Instances of injury increase during the winter months, as well, with as many as one million Americans sustaining slip and fall injuries both on and off teh job.
Occupational lung diseases are the number one cause of occupation-associated illnesses in the United States. Crystalline silica, which are tiny particles that can be inhaled during both household renovations — which 66% of homeowners are planning on commencing — and major demolition work.
Across the U.S., 2.3 million people are exposed to silica while on the job, which can lead to serious health concerns including lung cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Silicosis.
Construction workers can now access high-tech mobile apps to adhere to safety measurements during work. Though technological developments have certainly helped the construction industry minimize injury and fatalities, they have provided plenty of efficiency benefits, as well.
According to Construct Connect, technology is one of the main factors pushing virtually every industry — and construction, at least in 2019, is no exception. The industry is seeing more drone usage and 3D printing operations than ever before, as well as self-driving vehicles, and Building Information Modeling (BIM), which makes the collaboration aspect of construction much easier.
Overall, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the consecution market. As more technological innovations reach the construction industry, more women are hired, and an emphasis is placed on safety, this essential sector will continue to overcome the challenges it faces.