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Building Up the Construction Industry

southwest minnesota mapSeptember 25, 2015 - This summer saw a continued buildup of construction employment in Southwest Minnesota. Adding on to five years of steady employment growth in the region - after bottoming out during the recession in 2009 and 2010 - construction employers reported the third highest number of job vacancies in the second quarter of 2015, with 631 openings.

Most of these vacancies were for construction trades workers such as construction laborers, carpenters, and cement masons and concrete finishers, as well as highway maintenance workers. Wages for these jobs ranged from about $12.50 at the 25th percentile to just over $19.00 at the 75th percentile, with a median wage offer of $15.04 per hour for the industry.

Training for most of these jobs can be acquired through on-the-job training, including almost 80 percent that required only a high school diploma, and just 16 percent that required vocational training. Sixty percent required less than one year of experience, while 21 percent required four or more years of experience (Table 1).

Southwest Minnesota Job vacancy survey results, 2nd qtr 2015

Southwest Minnesota was home to 1,515 construction firms in 2014, providing an average of 7,755 jobs over the year, with a peak of 8,912 employees in the third quarter of 2014. Employment counts jumped 3.4 percent in the past year, and 8.8 percent from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2015, compared to just a 0.5 percent job gain across all industries. In fact, construction was the second fastest growing industry in the region from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2015.

The largest construction sector in Southwest Minnesota is specialty trade contractors, with 849 firms and 4,066 jobs. This includes:

  • Building equipment contractors like electrical, plumbing and heating, and other contractors;
  • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors such as concrete, steel, masonry, and roofing contractors;
  • Building finishing contractors like drywall and insulation, painting, flooring, and finish carpentry contractors; and
  • Other specialty trade contractors, including site preparation. Specialty trade contractors saw a 4.4 percent bump in the past year, and grew over 9 percent since 2013.

As drivers may have noticed, the fastest growing sector was heavy and civil engineering construction, which expanded 6.5 percent in the last year and 10.1 percent from the first quarter of 2013. These firms, which are typically larger in size, had 193 firms and 1,775 jobs in 2014; working on highway, street, and bridge construction and utility system construction.

The other major sector is construction of buildings, with 473 firms and 1,914 jobs in 2014; though it saw a slight decline in jobs over the past year. Employment is still up 6.6 percent since the first quarter of 2013, though, thanks to gains in residential building construction. However, the region is also well-known for its expertise in nonresidential building construction, specifically commercial and institutional buildings, as well as industrial building construction.

Construction is projected to be one of the fastest and the second largest growing industry in Southwest Minnesota over the next decade, with the most expansion expected in the construction of buildings sector, especially on the residential side. Other specialty trade contractors and building equipment contractors are also projected to see significant job growth (Table 2).

Southwest Minnesota Employment Projections, 2012 - 2022

For More Information

Contact Luke Greiner at 320-308-5378 or Mark Schultz at 507-205-6068.

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