The downside to full employment

“The most expensive employee you have is the one that is not there.”

If you haven’t met our regional manager, Tim Williams, you’re likely to hear those words from him whenever you do have your first conversation.

The point, of course, is that you can’t get work done without hands to do the job.

Tim knows of what he speaks. He’s been on the front lines of it all, watching and responding as the economic recovery has delivered pretty much full employment in most of the country, including Colorado and Kansas, where we do business.

It’s been great for workers but, of course, it can be tough on employers in need of talent.

We think about this dilemma a lot. In fact, practically non-stop, as does, apparently, Alex Carrick, the chief economist for CanaData, an economic forecasting service.

Mr. Carrick recently penned an opinion piece on infrastructure spending that caught our eye.

President Trump, as we know, wants to spend money on new roads and bridges. The Canadian government does, too.

Carrick wonders how much extra employment all of this potential new infrastructure spending might create.

In his article, he begins by laying out the facts. In the U.S., he notes, the total value of new construction in a year is roughly $1.2 trillion. The number of workers engaged in on-site construction activity as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 6.8 million.

Doing a bit of hypothesizing, he then suggests that each $1 billion of U.S. construction work leads to 5,000 direct on-site jobs.

We’ll let him pick up the story from here:

“That is by no means the whole story. The above numbers are only for ‘hard hat’ or ‘in-the-field’ work. What about all the workers who are involved in production-line operations for building product manufacturers?

“And even after all those individuals are included, the employment effect is still being vastly understated.

“Consider all the architectural and engineering offices and legal firms and real estate firms and trucking and delivery companies and service-providers (e.g., equipment repairs; freight hauling; etc.) that also benefit from construction capital spending.

“Adopting a wider perspective, the number of jobs created by $1 billion of construction almost certainly doubles to at least +10,000 man-years.”

Wow, right!?

Employers in the construction world have been feeling the pain of a shortage of workers for a while already. Now just imagine what a slew of multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects might do to the employment picture. And we haven’t even factored in a border wall yet.

Apprentice Personnel, at least, will do all we can to help you fill the gaps in your workforce needs.

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