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The big picture: The American industries that can't find workers

Construction workers in New York. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Construction workers in New York. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Amid the country's booming economy, currently in the midst of its longest-ever streak of job growth, some American industries are having problems finding workers to fill their openings.

The big picture: Many of the struggling industries pay well and provide ample benefits, so it seems strange that they'd be stuck with so many job vacancies. However, they're physically demanding or mentally stressful — often a combination of both — leading many millennials, who are likely to be more educated than the generations before them, to seek employment in other sectors.

  • Construction has been seeing a labor shortage because young U.S. workers aren't interested in replacing the aging workforce, even though it's a well-paid industry that often doesn’t require a college degree, reports the Wall Street Journal. Also potentially to blame: many businesses aren't willing to put in the time to help young people with on-the-job training.
  • Farmers in Washington are having experiencing a shortage of workers to bring in their harvests, McClatchy reports. That’s because very few American workers want agricultural jobs — and the federal government's guest worker program is too expensive for growers and useless for some farmers.
  • Truck drivers are facing a shortage of 51,000 this year, and that's projected to rise to 100,000 by 2021, USA Today reported earlier this year. Baby boomers are retiring from the truck driving business, but millennials have been unwilling to replace them, given the grueling hours and travel associated with the job.
  • 911 dispatchers are in short supply in cities all around the United States. Some factors, per the WSJ: small centers, the lack of resources to train and pay workers, and the unwillingness of many job-seekers to deal with the position's life-or-death consequences.

Go deeper: There are now more job openings than people unemployed.