RELEASE: New Research on Federal Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Climate Investments Shows Immense Job Opportunities and Workforce Needs

February 28, 2024

Twenty Occupations Will Face Labor Shortages, Resulting in an Anticipated Shortage of 1.1 Million Trained Workers to Fill Jobs 

AMHERST, Mass. – A new report from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) examines labor supply, demand, and potential shortages from new U.S. clean energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure laws: the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS and Science Act. The analysis was commissioned by the National Skills Coalition and BlueGreen Alliance and it builds on a PERI analysis from last year that found the combined investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS will create and support nearly 3 million jobs per year over their lifetime. 

“Our study shows that the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS and Science Act are poised to generate a major expansion in job opportunities throughout the U.S. economy, especially in the country’s construction and manufacturing sectors,” said PERI Co-Director and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Robert Pollin. “It is critically important to increase opportunities for workers—especially women and workers of color—to receive training, apprenticeships, and related forms of support, including childcare and fair hiring practices, that will enable workers to take full advantage of these new opportunities.”

This new report quantifies the employment impacts of the three laws on our nation’s labor supply. It found: 

  • Roughly two-thirds of direct job creation is expected to take place in the construction and manufacturing sectors, representing 453,000 jobs and 230,000 jobs respectively.
  • The job sectors that will see growth contrast sharply with how our economy has been trending. The manufacturing and construction sectors only represent 5.9% and 6.6% of employment in the overall economy, respectively.
  • Forty-eight specific occupations that are likely to experience significant increases in demand through the direct jobs channel resulting from investments. 
  • Of these, 27 have relatively higher entry requirements that will require formal training/credentialing.
  • Twenty occupations will face labor shortages, resulting in an anticipated total labor shortage of nearly 1.1 million workers if the investments reach their full anticipated levels without an expansion of newly qualified workers. This means that there is still time to invest in training, apprenticeships, and credentials associated with these jobs and related career pathways to help fill these positions.
  • As reported in PERI’s September 2023 study, 69% of jobs created by these three investments will be available to workers without a bachelor’s degree, compared to 59% of jobs in the entire U.S. workforce.
  • Women and people of color are significantly underrepresented in occupations created by these investments that are likely to face labor shortages. 

 The occupations that will experience the largest increases in construction are laborers, operating engineers, electrical power-line installers and repairers, and carpenters. The jobs that will see the largest increases in the manufacturing sector are assemblers and fabricators, and electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers.  

“This report illustrates the tremendous opportunity these investments present for blue-collar workers in the United States. It also allows us to shift workers from low-wage jobs with few benefits to careers in construction and manufacturing that can provide a better future,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “Unions are already successfully bringing more women and workers of color into these occupations by targeting their outreach for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. But, realizing that opportunity will require increased training, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeships, and postsecondary educational programs for workers—especially women and workers of color.” 

The report also examined the current demographics of workers in occupations where demand will increase. In half of the 20 infrastructure-related occupations with estimated labor shortages, women make up 10%, compared to 47% in the entire U.S. workforce. In 15 of the 20 infrastructure-related occupations with estimated labor shortages, workers of color make up less than 39%, compared to 39% in the entire U.S. workforce. 

“This new data underscores that we need a concerted, national effort to improve the training landscape, especially regarding jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree,” said National Skills Coalition CEO Robert Espinoza. “These training programs should also provide childcare and transportation, so workers can take care of their families and travel to a training program, and target women and people of color who remain underrepresented in many of these growing occupations. We need a holistic approach to make sure we have the workforce that meets the moment.” 

Read a data brief with these findings here: