The new infrastructure act has a strong potential impact on the metals industry. Industry experts predict that this will lead to both long-term and short-term jobs in metals. As such, they expect employment growth as many new steel workers enter the industry. This is especially true given the appeal of steady, well-paying jobs.
Labor Secretary Predicts New Steel Workers Enter Industry
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh recently spoke at an online event sponsored by the Washington Post. During the event, he predicted that many new steel workers would enter industry. This is a direct response to the increase in jobs and projects from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
United Steelworkers (USW) agrees that the infrastructure act is excellent news for the metals industry. The organization said its members are ready to be involved in modern infrastructure. After the act was passed, the organization’s International President, Tom Conway, said that it would promote “widespread job growth and economic opportunity.”
The American Iron and Steel Association Agrees
The American Iron and Steel Association (AISI) agrees that the infrastructure bill has a significant impact on the industry’s potential growth. The organization estimates sharp growth in demand for domestic steel. Specifically, they predict up to 5 million st. of a boost for each $100 billion invested in infrastructure.
This is in line with the estimate from the Steel Manufacturers Association. They predicted an increase in demand of 4 to 6 million st.
The Labor Shortage Should Not Pose a Problem
The predictions of new workers entering the steel industry come amid a labor shortage. To some, this may seem counterintuitive. However, Walsh does not see an issue. He specifically highlights that workers will be attracted to the new jobs in metals.
Walsh describes them as “good middle class jobs, good-paying jobs.” Those are both characteristics he thinks will bring people to the industry.
He also highlights the fact that the funds from the infrastructure act are spread over a decade. He says this creates “real opportunities” to get younger workers into the industry. Given that the lack of young workers to replace retiring ones is a significant factor in the labor shortage, this is important.
Encouragement for Diversity
Walsh also highlighted the importance of diversity in metals and construction. Specifically, he encouraged firms to create pathways for women and people of color. He was clear that this should not solely rest on companies. Communities must also help encourage this diversity.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan agreed. He said that training initiatives should start during high school. He also said that this pipeline of workers would require partnerships from the private sector.
With the infrastructure bill, the metals industry is facing a higher demand. Experts predict that workers will see the opportunities, and more will transition into the industry.
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