Here’s a shocker: Nur 11% of construction workers are women.
OK, so maybe that’s not really a shocker. It’s a male-dominated industry for… forever. Perhaps the shock is that the proportion of women in construction has since increased 2018 when the rate was 9.9% although it was floating between 9% to 10% according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics since the mid-1990s.
But here’s the other problem: There just aren’t enough builders. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors trade association, the industry nearly 650,000 workers this year – and that’s if the industry continues to hire at its normal pace. The deficiency is exacerbated by two widely used statistics (which are based on research data 5-15 years old): The average Construction worker retires at 61 and current 1 in 5 is older than 55.
“It’s a multidimensional challenge,” said Maja Rosenquist, senior vice president of MA Mortenson Company, a Denver-based construction and engineering firm. “There are generational challenges as much of the workforce is retiring, these are the frontline tradespeople. There are far fewer people entering the construction trades than we may have seen in the past.”
While the number of female construction workers has been increasing, especially since 2012, the trend for men is not the same. The pandemic has ravaged the industry, with fewer men in construction jobs last year than in 2019.
“I think construction has a branding problem because people think there are a lot of men working in it. It’s also something that people find very labor intensive,” Rosenquist said.
She prefers to think of it as an industry where there’s a job for everyone, from someone who hasn’t graduated high school to people who graduate from college or work in the best tech companies. It’s about having a career with benefits and something where there are job opportunities everywhere.
That’s why Rosenquist attended this week’s Women in Construction Week event, which highlighted the very low numbers, put the spotlight on top women in the field, and showed younger women the benefits of a career in construction.
“From a gender perspective,” she said, “it’s always been male-dominated, and so I think it’s something that people need to double down on to get both industry and companies to provide an inclusive work environment for women.” .”
Mortenson, of whom 20% of its 205 Denver employees are women, also announced Thursday a multi-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to provide training for women interested in construction Women Build Warriors program. This includes quarterly on-site courses and team building to master construction skills.
And for women, she stressed, the gender pay gap is one of the smallest. BLS data sets Earnings of women construction workers in 2019 at 94.3% the median weekly wage of a male worker. That equates to $862 per week for women and $914 for men, based on 2019 median weekly salary data. Across all occupations, women earned 81.5% of what men earned.
“The industry is evolving,” she says. “The ability to design more and prefabricate more in work environments (in a controlled space) will, I think, make the industry more attractive to women and help break the image of a very physical business.”
More about building:
→ Take a construction training course through Habitat for Humanity >> MORE
→ Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build newsletter >> SIGN UP
→ Training programs and job opportunities:
- Colorado Homebuilding Academy — Provides training and job placement in the Condustrion industry. >> DETAILS
- Colorado Training Council Construction Industry — Works with trade organizations in Colorado to offer training programs. >> MORE
- Career in Construction Colorado — Offers vocational training programs to high school students in Colorado. >> MORE
>> Best Paying Cities For Cement Masons? Not in Denver or anywhere in Colorado, according to a report by real estate firm Porch. In Colorado, bricklayers earned $47,454 per year, or about $1,400 more than the US average. If you can swing the cost of living in Hawaii, this state tops the list with an annual salary of $80,446. >> MASONS PAY
More than 40 janitors who clean up the Coors brewery in Golden get a 7% pay increase, which equates to about $1 to $2 an hour, depending on seniority and shift.
Why now? They voted to unionize last week and joined the Service Employees International Union Local 105. The caretakers work for the Coors contractor Integrated Cleaning Services.
The increase takes Denver-area workers to between $15.65 and $17.65 an hour, SEIU spokesman David A. Fernandez said the new contract. And over the next two years there will be a 4.4% pay rise.
While the low end is barely above Denver’s minimum wage, Fernandez points out that workers now have a guaranteed pay scale, health care, vacation and sick days, and other protections “that they previously didn’t have without a union.”
community membership declined in the pandemic, as hospitality companies are shedding labor early. But when workers returned, the plethora of job opportunities meant employers competed for staff and empowered workers to demand more.
Activity in Colorado continues to increase. As mentioned last week, three Denver-area Starbucks stores are attempting to unionize and are now joining one in Colorado Springs. Earlier this year, union workers at King Soopers went on strike and some workers ended up getting a raise of more than $5 an hour. And last fall, 350 janitors who are members of SEIU Local 105 agreed on a new contract with the contractor who will be cleaning Denver International Airport, increasing wages by $4 an hour over the next three years .
→ Baseball’s $700,000 contract – On Thursday, Major League Baseball and its players’ union finally agreed to a new contract that sets the new minimum salary at $700,000 this year, with annual increases of $20,000. reports the Wall Street Journal. The opening day for the Rockies is now set for April 8th. >> MLB contract
→ 27 years, $22.65/hour — That’s how much a security guard at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art makes, and she makes buttons for her colleagues as an art project, although it may seem like “a gesture of activism” given the union is in contract negotiations, reports the New York Times. The wage rates for museum guards in the “Mountain Plains”, which also includes Colorado, are therefore worse Salary Survey 2021 by the Association of Art Museum Directors. >> salary survey
Launched pilot program for workers with disabilities
A new program is underway at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to address a concern workers with disabilities feel: Their employment rates were one-third those of non-disabled people.
CDLE’s Disability Hiring Preference Pilot, spurred on by last year’s Senate Bill 95, gives applicants with disabilities five bonus points, similar to the program for veterans. But the boost doesn’t guarantee a job, CDLE officials said.
“Similar to the existing Veteran Preference Program, applicants who qualify for the Disability Hiring Preference Program receive five additional points during the process CDLE uses to evaluate and rank applicants for a position. This may increase the chance for people with disabilities to reach the top six candidate threshold, which is then moved to the interview stage,” CDLE said in a statement.
The pilot program will only run within CDLE until 2027 and if deemed successful other state government agencies will adopt it.
→ Different perspective: Amanda Morris, the New York Times’ staff disability reporter, notes that hiring people with disabilities isn’t big news. Rather, the hard of hearing reporter wrote: “The real story was that some of these workers had masters degrees, but they did Difficulty finding jobs elsewhere because of their disability.” >> New York Times
Other working bits
→ $6.8 billion invested in Colorado startups. That’s a lot of money. As mentioned last week, this also means many companies are hiring. But if you’re wondering how local startups have attracted so much, here’s the story to bring you up to speed: How Colorado startups attracted $6.8 billion in venture capital last year
→ Combat wage retaliation — It is well known that speaking out when a worker is not being paid a fair wage incurs the ire of managers. It’s so prevalent among immigrant workers, workers of color, women and the low paid that the US Department of Labor this week launched a resource to help workers combat retaliation. >> RESOURCES FOR REVENGE
→ Women’s Business Summit — The SBA is hosting its 2022 Women’s Business Summit online March 28-30. Topics include investment, export, e-commerce and contract opportunities. >> TO REGISTER
I’m always looking for interesting business stories from all over Colorado. And new job dates are coming out next week. If you are a business owner who has figured out how to make good use of this new economy, please share your story with us by emailing [email protected] with your experiences and other useful information.