Employment in the construction sector is projected to increase from more than 5.5 million in 2010 to nearly 7.4 million in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The increase of1.8 million jobs, an annual rate of growth of 2.9 percent, is the largest increase in employment among all industries. In 2006, the construction industry had 7.7million wage and salary jobs. While the number of jobs projected to be added in the industry between 2010 and2020 is large, the number still is projected to be below that held in 2006.

Slow but steady rebound

The construction industry was hit particularly hard by the recession, causing the annual employment for the wage and salary workers to fall by 2.1 million jobs for the 2007–2010 period, according to BLS. This fall represents a 10-percent annual rate of decline. The relatively low starting point for 2010 contributes to the large change and relatively fast the grow rate of employment projected for 2010–2020. During the earlier 2000–2010 period, the share of total employment held by construction fell from 4.6 percent to 3.9 percent, according to BLS. Because the employment rate in the construction industry is expected to grow faster than the overall employment rate, the percentage of all industry employees is expected to rise to 4.5 percent in 2020.

Rebuilding aging infrastructure

The construction industry is projected to experience one of the largest increases in real output, with the measure expected to rise by $368.7 billion, to reach almost $1.2 trillion in 2020. This increase contrasts sharply with that seen in the 2000–2010 period, in which real output in construction fell from $1.2 trillion to $814.7 billion. Most of the loss in output during 2000–2010 can be attributed to the recession that started in December 2007.The increase in residential investment and nonresidential structures investment during 2010–2020 will spur employment and output in the construction sector.

Investment in nonresidential structures is expected to grow 3.2 percent per year between 2010 and 2020, contrasting with the 3.5 percent decrease experienced during the 2000–2010 period. Improving existing and aging infrastructure will play a large role in this increase. Residential investment is projected to grow at 7.0 percent per year over the 2010–2020 period, faster than the 5.5-percent decline seen during the previous period. Most of the growth in residential construction can be attributed to its low starting point due to the recession.

Manufacturing jobs: a slight decline

Employment in the manufacturing sector is projected to fall by 73,100, an annual rate of decline of 0.1 percent, down to just under 11.5 million in 2020, according to BLS projections. Although employment is decreasing in this sector, the slight fall contrasts with the 5.7 million jobs lost between 2000 and 2010. Within the sector, 32 of the 77 industries are projected to increase employment. The increase in the volume of manufactured goods that are imported, as well as the increased productivity gains experienced in manufacturing industries, will drive some loss in jobs in the manufacturing sector.