By Ron Davis
As builders navigated supply chain issues for building materials, price increases and a scarcity of labor throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, efforts ramped up over the past year to increase the construction workforce.
The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity found that from November 2021 until November 2022, the state’s construction workforce expanded by more than 9,000 — a year-over-year increase of more than 5%. In total, the state of Arizona employs more than 186,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some 800 jobs were added in November alone.
That year-over-year influx is made up of a combination of workers moving into the state as well as the results of a workforce outreach in high schools, in colleges and among those looking to pivot careers, said Tom Dunn, president of the Arizona Builders Alliance.
“The next couple of years, there’s a looming fear of a recession, but I think it’s going to be a recession where the workers are still going to be in demand,” Dunn said. “This market is on fire still. In the back of my mind, I think we’re going to have a steady market. … The leadership of the state has done a great job of diversifying our economy so that we won’t be hit as bad as other states.”
A robust pipeline
In the Valley, many contractors and developers have their pipelines full through 2023 with some work even booked into 2024, Dunn said. Developers are currently working to catch up with a backlog of supply, with 35 million to 47 million square feet of space under development in the third quarter. Potential tenants looked to Arizona for most small to mid-sized buildings, as well as some larger, 1 million-plus square-foot warehouses.
“Because of the user demand for new facilities to manufacture, distribute and house talented employees, we’re seeing healthy numbers in the construction industry,” said Chuck Carefoot, president of Ryan Companies’ Southwest division. “I would not call it a robust labor market — it has not flipped that quickly. As we and our trade partners look out into 2023, availably for predictable work that trade contractors can bank on — they are looking to build their backlog of business. … Our work becomes pretty predictable and, in turn, we’re seeing more interest today from our trade partners in our work than we have seen in a year and a half.”
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