In my previous post, an investment analyst suggested the following:
Japan should focus more on creating jobs in the construction industry, to which 10 pct of its workforce belongs, he said.
To which my gut reaction was, MORE construction workers? Come on. As with the general worry that massive stimulus could create crippling levels of dependency on government largesse, a large permanent construction workforce could prove an end in itself, spurring fruitless construction projects like so many Towers of Babel.
So today I want to take a look at just what Japan’s workforce looks like and whether this guy has a point. Japan’s level of construction employment currently comes in at around 8.75%, having steadily declined since 2002:
Construction workers make up just 5% of the US non-farm civilian labor force. But then again, if you add prisoners and soldiers into the mix, you find the breakdown is 5.1% of the core workforce does construction, around 1.6% is in prison and another 1.03% is in the armed forces.
At that point the level of workers taken in by the “employment creation industries” (a term of my own creation) adds up to 7.8%. Given the comparatively miniscule incarceration and military service rates for Japan and the chronically higher unemployment rate in the US, the picture doesn’t end up looking so different from Japan.
I still don’t know whether Japan really needs more construction workers, but at least I know that there’s a somewhat equivalent population of workers in the US that makes Japan a less of an outlier.