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Cities With the Youngest (and Oldest) Construction Workers

The construction industry is struggling to attract young workers, contributing to a persistent labor shortage. Demand for new home construction continues to be high, and many construction companies are unable to find the workers needed in order to meet demand. As the share of young construction workers declines, the construction workforce is getting older. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of construction workers was 41 in 2019, up from 39 a decade prior.

As fewer young people enter the industry, the share of older construction workers has increased. Compared to 2009, there were 330,000 fewer construction workers aged 20 to 29 in 2019, while there were 312,000 more workers aged 60 or older. While there isn’t one obvious reason for these changes, industry experts point to the decline in high school vocational programs and that construction firms hired fewer young people during the Great Recession—changes that have prevented young workers from gaining experience in the industry.

Chart1 Construction workers skew older now than a decade ago

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While once popular with young workers, the construction industry now skews older than some other industries that attract young people. The median age of workers in the hospitality industry is 30, while the median age of retail workers is 36. The median age of workers across all industries is 41, the same as in construction.

Construction workers skew older in some cities and states than in others—while the median age of construction workers is 41 at the national level, the age distribution of construction workers varies geographically. At the regional level, construction workers in the Northeast tend to be older while there are more young construction workers in the Great Plains states. North Dakota, Utah, and Alaska have the youngest construction workforces, with a median age of 36 in these states. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the median construction worker age is 46 in Maine, the oldest in the country.

Chart2 Construction workers in the Northeast tend to be older

To find the metropolitan areas with the youngest and oldest construction workers in the U.S., researchers at Construction Coverage, a review website for construction management software and builders risk insurance, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the median age of construction workers. Researchers also calculated the share of construction workers under 30, the share of construction workers over 50, and the total number of construction workers in the labor force.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

Here are the metros with the youngest and oldest construction workers.

Chart3 Small and midsize metros with the youngest construction workers

Large Metros With the Youngest Construction Workers

01 01 Oklahoma Oklahoma City PKJ0CA
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1. Oklahoma City, OK

  • Median age of construction workers: 35
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 28.2%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 20.2%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 46,216

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01 02 Utah Salt Lake City D44ETX
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2. Salt Lake City, UT

  • Median age of construction workers: 36
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 29.2%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 17.1%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 41,070

01 03 Texas San Antonio HDEAHP
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3. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 27.1%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 23.9%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 82,680

01 04 Arizona Tucson MWRFTC
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4. Tucson, AZ

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 26.6%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 24.1%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 23,676

01 05 Texas Dallas K5DATJ
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5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 26.0%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 20.4%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 249,321

01 06 North Carolina Charlotte CE83C5
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6. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 25.9%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 20.9%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 68,740

01 07 Texas Houston G2C895
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7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 25.5%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 20.0%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 264,965

01 08 Texas Austin GJXDYX
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8. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Median age of construction workers: 38
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 22.5%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 21.7%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 66,627

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01 09 Ohio Columbus P1R4RP
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9. Columbus, OH

  • Median age of construction workers: 39
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 33.0%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 26.3%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 35,763

01 10 Michigan Grand Rapids R0BJMR
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10. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

  • Median age of construction workers: 39
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 30.1%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 28.9%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 23,908

Large Metros With the Oldest Construction Workers

02 01 Florida Miami DRW70A
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

  • Median age of construction workers: 45
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 16.4%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 35.0%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 182,224

02 02 Maryland Baltimore HE3FJE
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2. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Median age of construction workers: 44
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 19.9%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 37.2%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 44,891

02 03 New York Buffalo PRP666
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3. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

  • Median age of construction workers: 44
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 20.7%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 36.1%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 23,067

02 04 Connecticut Hartford ETY5T6
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4. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

  • Median age of construction workers: 44
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 18.5%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 35.0%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 24,847

02 05 Ohio Cleveland PWACRD
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5. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Median age of construction workers: 44
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 17.8%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 32.5%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 42,397

02 06 Illinois Chicago P7MRNE
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6. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

  • Median age of construction workers: 43
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 19.0%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 30.6%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 205,827

02 07 Pennsylvania Pittsburgh KCH540
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7. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Median age of construction workers: 42
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 21.8%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 36.2%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 49,472

02 08 Michigan Detroit M964DD
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Median age of construction workers: 42
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 25.9%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 31.4%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 76,962

02 09 Wisconsin Milwaukee P7MTFR
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

  • Median age of construction workers: 42
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 18.2%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 31.2%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 27,853

02 10 Massachusetts Boston EAYKR2
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10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  • Median age of construction workers: 42
  • Share of construction workers under 30: 18.2%
  • Share of construction workers over 50: 30.6%
  • Total construction workers in the labor force: 116,757

Detailed Findings & Methodology

The Oklahoma City metro area boasts the most youthful construction workforce among all large metros, with half of its construction workers under age 35. Texas is home to four of the large metro areas with the youngest construction workers, where each has a median age of 38 for its construction worker labor force. Among the small and midsize metros with the youngest construction workers, some places skew even younger, with median construction worker ages in the lower 30’s.

The large metros with the oldest construction workers are located on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Median construction worker ages in these metros are in the mid-40’s, higher than the national median of 41. On average, construction workers over age 50 account for one-third of all construction workers in these cities.

To find the cities with the youngest and oldest construction workers in the U.S., researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the median age of construction workers. In the event of a tie the metro with the larger share of construction workers under 30 was ranked higher for the youngest worker list, and the metro with the larger share of construction workers over 50 was ranked higher for the oldest worker list. Researchers also calculated the total number of construction workers in the labor force.

Additionally, metros were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

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