Angi’s Skilled Trades Report 2024

Executive Summary:

The skilled trades have remarkably high job satisfaction, many job openings, and are insulated from AI. So, why are they having such a hard time recruiting workers?

If you’re a homeowner, this question is far from rhetorical, and you might find out the hard way the next time your toilet clogs. The trade shortage could result in longer wait times and higher labor costs in the near future, as fewer workers attempt to keep up with more and more jobs.

Our report on the state of skilled service trades such as construction, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work in America reveals nearly 90% of surveyed tradespeople reporting they are very or somewhat satisfied with their current profession. The rate of professional fulfillment among trade professionals has increased since the pandemic due to the industry’s meaning and value of work, compensation, and flexible hours. Indeed, when professionals were asked what single fact they wanted high school students to know about the field, the high job satisfaction was the most popular answer, at 31%.

Perhaps most relevant for 2024, our survey found that the majority of skilled trades professionals are not worried about artificial intelligence replacing their jobs. Unlike many other modern industries, the trades represent careers where people are confident that AI will not replace their home-improvement work.

Despite overall optimism about their businesses post-pandemic, a broader industry view reveals consistent concerns about the future of the skilled home services trades, industry perceptions, and labor shortages. Although the trades offer advancement opportunities, competitive starting salaries and benefits, and protection against AI, they’re fighting to retain employees as seasoned professionals age out or retire. America has one million fewer tradespeople than in 2007, with several veterans retiring for every young person entering the field. Nearly 70% of tradespeople today view the labor shortage as a problem vs. 77% in 2021. 

To address the widening gap between the supply and demand of qualified tradespeople specializing in home improvement work, our survey respondents suggested investing in high-school programs that educate young people about trade professions and creating more apprenticeship opportunities.

“We don’t want to be a country that has homes, but no plumbers. Yards, but no landscapers,” says Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angi. “Behind every home in America is a team of people taking care of it, from the HVAC tech to the general contractor.”

Part 1: Satisfaction and Meaningful Work

According to our poll, job satisfaction in the trades is quite high, with nearly 90% of survey respondents reporting they are either very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. This response indicates an increase in job satisfaction since 2021 when 83% provided similar feelings. The flexible nature of tradework, the competitive salaries and benefits, and the entrepreneurial opportunity to own and grow your own business make the trades attractive. However, there is still difficulty in recruiting enough skilled workers to fill the demand. 

Out of surveyed tradespeople, 66% believe they could expand their business if they could attract more quality skilled laborers. There are a few reasons for these industry shifts, including the aging population of tradespeople, the stigma surrounding trade professions as being somehow less desirable or respectable than a job that requires a college degree, and the diminished pathways to trade jobs that previously existed within schools. 

Part 2: The Current Trade Shortage and How We Got Here

Skilled home services professionals often have a wide array of perks, including high starting wages, bonuses, and good benefits. The trades usually involve little to no student debt, and work in one of the few areas unlikely to be overtaken by AI any time soon. It’s hard to imagine that this field is struggling badly for workers.

And yet, 70% of surveyed skilled trade professionals say the current trade shortage is a major problem. For decades, longtime veterans have warned of an impending and inevitable labor shortage as demographic realities take hold. 

It’s a simple problem without an easy answer: According to both professionals and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, experienced tradespeople are retiring much faster than new ones join the ranks to replace them.

Many factors played into this shortage. Professionals surveyed often said they felt young people aren’t entering the trades, schools aren’t offering the exposure to the trades they once did, and the social stigma of the trades keeps young people from applying. And this has a definite impact on the bottom line; two-thirds of professionals say they’d be able to grow their businesses if they could hire more workers.  

Macroeconomic elements play a big role here. The 2008-2009 recession led to many contractors going out of business, many of whom did not return after the economy recovered. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total construction industry employment peaked in 2007 with 11.9 million employees, but dropped to 10.8 million by 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated this trend. In addition, the surge in red-hot home sales and renovations during the pandemic, which is only beginning to slow, has only increased the demand for home trade services. The BLS expects about 650,000 new job openings every year in the construction trades for the foreseeable future.

Home-improvement professionals, trained to perform physical and often highly technical labor on your home, are now a limited resource. This scarcity significantly impacts your home projects. As a result, labor and home projects have become more expensive, and you may experience longer waits to get on a reliable contractor’s schedule. 

Pros also say the field needs to be more open to women. 41% of respondents reported seeing more women enter the workforce as skilled tradespeople over the last five years. However, the significant majority of trade workers are men; 81% of respondents in our survey are men. 62% of surveyed pros said more women would join the trades if a clearer career path was built for them.

“The trades can create rewarding career opportunities for women,” Hicks says. “Tradeswomen are an untapped source to solve the current labor shortage.”

Part 3: How the Skilled Trades Will Remain Strong In the Face of AI

The potential for opportunity in the skilled trades becomes even starker when you consider how much artificial intelligence is upending corporate or non-manual jobs and traditional college-degree careers. Although the impact of AI is only beginning to be felt in most fields and its full effects remain uncertain, 65% of surveyed tradespeople say they feel their job is safe from being taken by AI.

Until a mobile robot can diagnose your busted HVAC or unclog a toilet, trade jobs are pretty safe from AI disruption. The trades primarily operate in the physical world, and no algorithm on the planet has yet figured out how to hang drywall. 39% of surveyed pros feel confident that AI will not impact their job in the next ten years, and 48% reported that AI technology will help them in their work in the future, such as handling logistical and scheduling tasks so the workers can focus on the job. And, 47% of surveyed tradespeople say they don’t think AI can ever replace humans completing home-improvement jobs.

Contrast these job-security sentiments to findings from a 2024 Washington State University survey: a third of American professionals worry that some jobs will become obsolete in the AI era, and nearly half fear they’ll be left behind in their careers if they don’t keep up with AI. But, while the details of tradework evolve over time, the fundamental principles of how electricity enters your home and wastewater exits have remained largely unchanged for over a century. This consistency, along with the current limitations of AI in conducting manual labor, reinforces the confidence many trades professionals have in their futures.

Indeed, AI could offer some unexpected benefits to the trades. “As other careers face reductions from AI, those same reductions could attract people to the trades,” Hicks says. “We’ve seen many pros that had office jobs who have left their career to pursue the entrepreneurial opportunities of the trades.”

Part 4: Satisfaction, Pay, Intangibles: The Benefits of the Skilled Trades

The data tells us that the trades will remain a remarkably resilient and fulfilling field for many who will go into it. Nearly 90% of surveyed tradespeople reported feeling either very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. And that’s up several percentage points from 2021.

On the flip side, a majority of tradespeople consider the labor shortage to be a major problem. Nearly 70% say it’s a big issue, and 75% think it’s either stayed the same or gotten worse over the past five years.

As a result, none of the potential problems are hypotheticals for the owners and managers who have to figure all this out. These situations are real, growing, and impacting the bottom line. More than two-thirds of pros surveyed agreed they would be able to grow their business faster if they could find more skilled laborers. Instead, in many cases they’re just struggling to keep up with who they have.

And trade companies are hiring—oh yes, they’re hiring. In our poll, 39% of pros reported being unable to find employees to fill open positions, while another 37% said although they could find employees, they were not suitably qualified. High schools were once major trade recruiting centers, but now only about 19% of surveyed pros source new workers from them. Instead, trade pros rely on word of mouth, trade associations, and online postings to find workers. They use tangible and intangible benefits such as higher wages, insurance, bonuses, and flexible scheduling to attract workers.

Something else to consider: By and large, home trades tend to be small and local businesses. In many trades, once you’ve achieved a certain level of mastery and passed the proper licensing exams, you can hang out your shingle and quite literally be your own boss. And even if you work for a company, the owner probably has an office twenty feet away from you. That close small-business feel offers an intangible job satisfaction you’re not going to get from working for a large corporation.

Part 5: The Solution for the Future: Demystifying the Trades

So, let’s be blunt: The skilled trade labor shortage and shifting demographics indicate that in the next few years the lack of home-improvement workers will reach critical levels. Where do we go from here?

There’s hope for the future, even after a period where the shortage was expanding. Only 31% of surveyed professionals think the shortage will get worse, 27% expect it to stay the same in the next five years, and 42% expect it to improve.

Veteran tradespeople say that demystifying the trades could be the key to unlocking the labor shortage. When asked why they thought young people are not entering the trades, 43% of surveyed trades pros cited the stigma around the trade roles, and 58% say the lack of exposure in high schools suppresses interest. Indeed, while workers aged 25-44 tend to be more optimistic about the future of the shortage, they are more likely to say younger people are not joining the trades due to stigmas surrounding trade roles. In recent decades, a college education has become nearly indispensable in many professions, often overshadowing trade and vocational schools. The societal pressure on college above all else created a disincentive for new workers to pursue trades, and indeed, a stigma that tradespeople are working to overcome. Pros have told us that when high schools largely eliminated shop class in the early 2000s as a result of increased focus on college prep, a crucial pipeline for potential new trades people was cut off. 

According to our surveyed trade experts, the solution is to promote awareness of trade industries and eliminate barriers to entry. 66% of surveyed pros said that investing in high school programs to educate young people on trade professions will provide the most effective recruitment tool. About 54% of respondents said greater investment in trade schools would reverse the recruiting trend, and 57% advocated for more apprenticeship programs.


While the skilled trades face numerous challenging headwinds, responses from professionals indicate that hope and optimism are rising. The skilled trades present a wide array of opportunities in an expanding post-pandemic world. And with expanded education and outreach, the fields can attract new workers seeking the stability and satisfaction the trades offer.

“The skilled trades offer highly satisfying and secure jobs, critical to America’s infrastructure and economy,” Hicks says. “More people are starting to recognize this, but we need to continue to educate new job seekers about the incredible potential a career in the skilled trades holds.” 


This research report was compiled based on Angi analysis of American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata and a survey of 1200 skilled tradespeople conducted between March 29th and April 2nd 2024. The survey panels were provided by Pollfish, a 3rd party survey and panel provider that delivers online surveys globally through mobile apps and the mobile web along with the desktop web. The sample targeted skilled tradespeople and no post sample weighting was applied.