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BC Construction Association survey finds pay up but workers down

More women are involved in the province's construction industry.
B.C.'s construction indsutry now contributes $23 billion to the economy.

The value of projects is up, the number of workers is down, pay has increased, and more women are involved.

That is the current state of the B.C. construction industry, according to the BC Construction Association’s annual industry survey.

The BCCA released the findings of its survey on Thursday, and it found that the industry’s contribution to the province’s gross domestic product has increased 22 per cent over the last five years. It now contributes $23 billion to the economy, and it remains the No. 1 employer in the provincial goods sector—despite a 2% decline in the number of people who rely on construction for a paycheque when compared to 2017.

The total value of this year’s projects is up 17% compared to pre-pandemic times, even as the cost of materials has never been higher.

“Construction is an essential and highly dynamic industry that is affected by events next door and around the world,” BCCA president Chris Atchison said in a press release. “Whether it’s pandemic, floods, fires, war, supply chain or government policy, our industry adapts to reflect those challenges."

“With the unprecedented commitment of tax dollars to infrastructure spending and a boom in large private projects, employers are looking for leadership from government on two major issues that will improve industry conditions for all contractors and workers regardless of labour affiliation: prompt payment legislation and mandatory public sector procurement best practices.”

The survey found that 20 per cent of construction companies are apprehensive to bid on taxpayer-funded projects due to eroding public sector procurement standards.

Finding people to work in the industry continues to be a concern, as the number of workers is down 2% from last year and 9% from before the pandemic. If there’s good news on that front, it’s that the average wage is up to $66,591 and more women have joined the workforce. More women are working in the trades and are five times more likely to recommend it as a career path. However, they are less likely to recommend that their fellow females get into the general construction industry.

The BCCA projects that more than 5,600 provincial construction jobs will be unfilled by 2027 if the hiring continues at its current pace.