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Contractors: The trades badly need more skilled workers

Concrete workers at the site of the future St. Luke's Children's Pavilion in Boise last spring.

Concrete workers at the site of the future St. Luke’s Children’s Pavilion in Boise last spring. The Associated General Contractors of America plans to release recommendations for public officials August 29 on how to increase the pipeline of skilled workers. File photo

The number of construction jobs in Idaho remained on an even keel in July, continuing a trend that started in March.

About 43,000 to 44,000 people are building homes, commercial, office and industrial structures in the state, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

AGC’s monthly count had Idaho with 43,700 construction jobs in July, a 3.6 percent increase from the prior July. This ranked Idaho No. 20 among states.

Idaho has been hovering around No. 20 since March after consistently ranking in the Top 5 in year-over year job growth with double-digit percentage job increases since 2015 until February. Several large construction projects have been winding down since then.

Idaho did add 100 construction jobs from June to July, ranking No. 23, as construction started on the Boise State University Fine Arts Building. Construction is also imminent on an 86,000-square-foot office/retail building for Norco in Meridian.

Idaho job numbers have stalled, in part, because of a shortage of qualified construction workers, said Jerry Frank, president and CEO at PETRA Inc., a Meridian-based general contractor.

“It is definitely an employees’ market right now,” Frank said. “It is really testing the loyalty of our team.”

A construction worker shortages is a national malaise. AGC on Aug. 29 will release regional and state construction worker shortage data and suggest steps public officials can take to increase the number of qualified workers.

Neighboring states are faring better in finding construction workers.

Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Washington exceeded Idaho’s construction job growth rate in July, as they have all year. Oregon and Nevada ranked No. 1 and No. 2 with 13.2 percent and 12.8 percent increases in July, according to AGC statistics.

About Teya Vitu

Teya Vitu is an Idaho Business Review reporter, covering commercial real estate, construction, transportation and whatever else may intrigue him in the moment. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_TeyaVitu.