Construction worker shortages in Idaho and across the country have not stopped Oregon and Idaho from ranking No. 1 and No. 2 in construction job growth from January 2016 to January 2017, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
Idaho added 4,500 construction jobs, an 11.3 percent increase over January 2016, to reach 44,200 for the first time since August 2008.
Idaho’s No. 2 status is reflected across the state as all five metropolitan areas fell with the Top 83 in construction job growth among the nations’ 358 metropolitan statistical areas. Boise had the highest percentage increase in construction jobs a couple months in 2016 but in January ranked No. 38 with 1,600 jobs added from January to January, a 9-percent increase.
Lewiston and Pocatello each added 400 construction jobs, gains of 36 percent and 29 percent, respectively, to rank No. 1 and 3 in the nation with Lewiston matching Grand Forks, N.D., in the top spot. Couer D’Alene ranked No. 38 with a 7-percent gain with 300 jobs added, and Idaho Falls came in at No. 83 with 200 new jobs or a 6-percent increase.
“If you could add 3,000 or 4,000 construction jobs, we could handle it real easy,” said Kelly Perryman, owner of Perryman Construction Management in Nampa. “My framer had 150 people in 2007. Now he has 55 to 60 and he can’t find any more. He could double his size and keep them busy if he could find them.”
Perryman says the labor shortage is slowing construction project down across the Treasure Valley. He said multi-family projects he’s building now typically take seven months and are now stretched out over nine months.
From December to January, Idaho added 1,100 construction workers, a 2.6 percent increase, ranking 12th in the country – in the midst of snow carpeting the Treasure Valley for 56 consecutive days.
Strong gains in Idaho are countered by year-over-year construction job losses in 10 states and 104 metro areas, according to AGC statistics.