The Skilled Trades Gap

Is There Really A Labor Shortage In The Skilled Trades?

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 05/30/2019

There are questions about whether a labor shortage really exists in the United States, and the brief answer is yes, there's a shortage of labor. While there aren't always easy answers to economic questions, it's clear there are gaps between the number of available jobs and the number of workers available to fill those jobs. Here's why this is important news for someone considering a skilled trade as a profession.

Sustained Economic Growth and Available Blue-Collar Jobs

The United States has seen over 118 months of sustained economic growth, as of March 2019, but the number of candidates available to fill the new jobs declined over the past couple years. Blue-collar fields, such as construction, are where employers are finding the biggest challenges in finding workers. This makes it easier for workers in trade fields to find a job and negotiate benefits like higher wages, insurance and vacation time.

The Size of the Gap Between Jobs and Workers

Workers in skilled trades are likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries of this trend. After about 20 years of job shortages, when there was an abundance of workers and few open jobs, this trend flipped around the end of 2017. The size of the gap between open jobs and available workers as of early 2019 leaves an excess of 1.1 million available jobs, and this is expected to continue.

Lucrative Jobs with Shorter Training Times

Compared to going to college, when you choose training to get a job in one of the skilled trades, such as construction, HVAC or plumbing, you can be on the job and earning a living much faster. Plus, the wages for jobs in skilled trades are higher than average. Using plumbing as an example, the average hourly rate for this type of work is $25.92 per hour after participating in on-the-job training through an apprenticeship.

The reduced worker availability is at least partially due to the number of retiring baby boomers and the increasing number of college-educated workers who prefer to avoid blue-collar work.

So what exactly does all of this mean? In short, the trade fields are wide open and rapidly growing, providing a lot of potential to workers. By 2028, it's expected that there will be over three million available skilled trade jobs that offer job satisfaction, great pay, and benefits. Interested in taking the next step and finding training or career opportunities near you? Go to our job and training boards and find your future today.