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Tacoma Works Strives to Increase Employment in the Construction Industry

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Tacoma Works is an initiative to increase employment of Tacoma-Pierce County residents in the construction field. The Puget Sound region is seeing unprecedented investment in public infrastructure and a boom in building construction, but there is a labor shortage in the greater Tacoma area for completing these projects. At the same time, Pierce County’s unemployment rate continues to be higher than that of King and Thurston counties. This initiative aims to connect local talent to living wage jobs in the construction industry.


Why the Construction Industry?


Between 2015 and 2016, the construction industry in the Tacoma-Lakewood metropolitan area saw 11% growth, the 14th fastest in the country (Association of General Contractors). In the next two decades, the construction industry will be the fastest growing sector of the economy in the Puget Sound.


Major transportation infrastructure improvements will be happening in the Tacoma-Pierce County area as a result of the Connecting Washington package passed by the state legislature, Sound Transit 3 passed by voters in 2016, and the City of Tacoma’s Streets Initiative passed by voters in 2015. All of these packages combine to create more than $55 billion in investment in the Puget Sound region.


Private sector development is also on the rise. Nearly 2,000 housing units are either under construction or projected to break ground in 2017. A variety of commercial projects are planned for the downtown area and waterfront over the next several years.


The average annual wage for construction is $60,899 in Pierce County, a living wage that is nearly $3,000 more than the regional average wage. (Workforce Central)


The wage gap in the construction industry is smaller than in most other professions. Women in construction make 93% of what men earn, while women in general earn 82% on average what men earn.  Nationwide, 939,000 women work in the construction industry. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)