New Brunswick construction employment to peak this year

The Safety Mag - March 15, 2022

Overall construction employment in New Brunswick to reach a peak in 2022, but it will eventually moderate and eventually decline by an about 684 workers (-3.4 per cent of the 2021 workforce) by 2027, according to a report from BuildForce Canada.

“As is the case in many of the Atlantic Provinces, New Brunswick’s construction labour force is challenged with peak demands now, and potentially a lower availability of workers by 2027,” said Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada.

“Although construction employment in the province surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021, labour force growth has been more sluggish. A pullback in labour force participation during the pandemic, particularly among older workers, has contributed to a decline in available workers and rates of industry unemployment that the province has not experienced since its 2011 peak in construction activity.”

To offset the outflow of 4,200 workers (17 per cent of the 2021 labour force) to retirement, New Brunswick’s construction industry will need to recruit 3,600 new workers, according to BuildForce Canada.

But things could be even more challenging because of the shrinking pool of available new entrants as population growth slows and fewer young people are available to enter the labour force. This hiring requirement could be partly addressed through the recruitment of a potential 2,710 workers under the age of 30 from the local population, but a gap of some 930 workers may emerge, according to the organization.

“The construction industry remains focused on building a more diverse and inclusive labour force. To that end, efforts are ongoing to enhance the recruitment of individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in the province’s construction labour force, such as women, Indigenous people, and newcomers to Canada,” said BuildForce Canada.

In 2021, there were approximately 2,180 women employed in New Brunswick’s construction industry, a slight increase over the 2,100 employed in 2020. Also, approximately 63,700 Indigenous people were employed in Canada’s construction sector in 2021, equivalent to nine per cent of all Indigenous people in the workforce. 

The province is also expected to welcome an average of 6,600 newcomers every year through 2027. 

In March 2020, the Ontario Construction Consortium (OCC) raised concerns over the wellbeing of construction workers amid the shutdown of non-essential businesses.