The Millwright Myth

It may not seem possible, but statistics are indicating that millwrights are a dying trade. A millwright, defined as a skilled tradesperson who installs, dismantles, maintains, repairs, reassembles, and moves machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites, is a skilled profession proving to experience one of the biggest declines among all occupations in the near future.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a good growth rate by occupation is about 5%. However, the need for millwrights is projected to grow by 10.3%. This looks and sounds like a thriving outlook for the millwright trade among all construction labor (and it is) until you take a closer look at the current millwright employment statistics.

Millwright Workforce Outlook

Just as the need for additional millwrights increases, so does the number of existing millwrights who will soon be able to retire. A quick look at the age breakdown of currently employed millwrights helps to explain this:

  • 20-30 years old = 7% of millwright workforce
  • 30-40 years old = 19% of millwright workforce
  • 40+ years old = 74% of millwright workforce

Additionally, the number of years that a millwright stays in their job is also declining:

  • Less than 1 year = 32%
  • 1-2 years = 25%
  • 3-4 years = 12% (Helmkamp millwrights = 7%)
  • 5-7 years = 13% (Helmkamp millwrights = 13%)
  • 8-10 years = 5% (Helmkamp millwrights = 7%)
  • 11+ years = 13% (Helmkamp millwrights = 73%)

In just one year, the number of millwrights employed in the US dropped from roughly 46,000 to 44,000. Knowing this, along with the drastic decline of millwrights in the employment funnel, indicates this trade could virtually go extinct. This drastic decline is particularly alarming considering the construction industry is already facing labor shortages across all trades.

However, you might notice that Helmkamp specializes in complex millwright construction and provides this work type for many of its industrial and life science customers. Among our directly hired carpenters and field leaders, seventeen of them are millwright trained. This group has a combined 247 years of millwright project expertise at Helmkamp, reflecting a 15-year average and vastly surpassing the industry average shown above by 60%. This is an area that Helmkamp is recognized for doing well and relied upon by many customers as the builder of choice for their millwright-related projects.

Although millwrights appear to be a dying trade, the good news is that the need is ever-growing and Helmkamp is well-equipped to serve that need.

To learn more about Helmkamp’s millwright capabilities, contact us or visit: Helmkamp is the Mill"wright" Choice.

To see a recent award-winning example of Helmkamp’s millwright capabilities for an industrial client, visit our LinkedIn post: Helmkamp Keystone Award for Industrial Millwright Project.