Analysis shows the need for a larger and better-trained historic trades workforce; 100,000 workers needed within the next decade
BALTIMORE (November 15, 2022) – Preservation Maryland and its national program, The Campaign for Historic Trades, today announced the completion of a first-of-its-kind labor study on the status of historic trades in America. The study is believed to be the most comprehensive survey ever prepared on the status of the traditional trades in the United States. While ample data exists for the construction industry as a whole, specific and consistent labor market statistics have not previously existed for the historic trades.
The Campaign for Historic Trades is a national workforce development program powered by the statewide non-profit Preservation Maryland in partnership with the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center. As part of its mission to identify and resolve systemic barriers to historic trades careers, The Campaign sought to define historic trades occupations and ascertain the current and future market need for trained tradespeople. With this new study, conducted by PlaceEconomics – a firm with decades of experience in the analysis of the economic impact of preservation – and the data it provides, the gap between the need for historic preservation trades workers and the trained hands to perform the work is estimated and forecasted for the first time in history.
“Quantifying the disconnect between the need for historic preservation trades workers and the trained hands to perform the work allows us to make the strong case for funding to support our bold initiative and, most importantly, create a larger and better-trained workforce to preserve historic places across the country,” explained Natalie Henshaw, Director of The Campaign for Historic Trades.
The portion of the construction industry that is focused on historic rehabilitation is large and growing. Heritage trades make up an estimated 12.6% of all building rehabilitation jobs. Both the number of buildings considered historic and the amount of money invested in their rehabilitation are on upward curves. But there is a serious shortage of workers who are trained and experienced in the historic preservation trades.
- Nearly 2 million commercial buildings, 35 million residential buildings, and over 2 million multi-family buildings—that is, almost 39 million of 96.1 million structures in total—in the United States were built at least 50 years ago.
- Each year, approximately 261,000 of these properties have rehabilitation projects that require experience heritage trades workers—that is nearly 100,000 highly specialized trades workers needed over the next decade.
- In 2021 alone the total investment in historic buildings is estimated to be nearly $37 billion, and that historic rehabilitation activity is expected to create close to 166,000 direct jobs annually.
The rehabilitation of historic buildings is a labor-intensive activity, meaning a high share of the total expenditure goes to labor. These projects create more localized jobs compared to new construction activities.
- For every 10 direct jobs created by rehabilitating a historic building, another 1.8 to 2.4 additional jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.
- On average, for every $100 in direct labor income an additional $186 is generated in paychecks for indirect and induced jobs.
- Additionally, $11.3 billion direct labor income is created by historic rehabilitation activity.
“Historic preservation is not niche,” said Nicholas Redding, president and CEO of Preservation Maryland and The Campaign for Historic Trades. “It’s a major component of the nation’s construction industry and this study underscores the need for communities all across America to invest in the workforce that will sustain this growing, diverse, and significant component of the trades landscape.”