Construction Is Holding Back the Economy

February 28, 2018
Noah Smith - Bloomberg

Changes in contracts and rules could make the sector a lot more efficient.

The question of whether to prioritize jobs or economic efficiency is always difficult. Nowhere is this more of a dilemma than in the construction industry.

In a world of rapid technological disruption, construction is a rock of solidity to which many blue-collar workers can cling. The industry still employs about 7 million workers in the U.S.

The job doesn’t change that much from decade to decade. It’s a big broad occupation, unlike social-media marketing or other new niche jobs, so it allows working-class people to minimize the time and effort they spend building for a career. And workers get trained on the job, without years of college.

What’s more, construction workers are mostly male. To the degree this is a result of sexism, that’s bad. But it also means that the construction industry employs lots of men, at a time when they haven’t been doing so well in the jobs department.



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