The US construction industry is suffering drastic worker shortages resulting from the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, according to a recent report by Construction Dive. Citing data analyzed by the Washington Post, roughly 8.8 million construction workers “reported missing work either because they were sick with the coronavirus or caring for someone else who was ill” between late December 2021 and mid-January 2022. That number represents a threefold increase since the beginning of December, and 2.2 million more than January 2021’s peak, per the Post. Despite signs that the omicron surge is waning, “businesses across the country are still feeling the strain just as a new omicron variant is rearing its head,” according to Construction Dive.
That strain has hit contractors across the country. As a Missouri-based contractor told Construction Dive, “just seems like it’s spreading so much more rapidly than it has ever before, and even with the people that are really careful.” Contractors have responded with various strategies, like using “recruiting managers and executives to fill in” for missing workers. Still, not every wound can be patched. The Missouri-based contractor said that “one of his company’s electrical subcontracting firms had, at one point, 75% of their office test positive,” leading all the other employees to quarantine and his job site devoid of electric workers for the following week.
Meanwhile in New York City, a contractor told Construction Dive that the omicron variant’s effect was felt most powerfully in his firm’s “quick-build retail projects,” where he’s losing at least 10% of his workers each day. “I happily say that we haven’t yet experienced a significant schedule impact that has really created a major challenge for us to deal with, with our clients and owners,” he said. “But it has impacted things throughout the course of the project.”
More information about the construction industry’s staffing problems during the omicron surge is available via Construction Dive.