Almost 7 out of 10 construction firms struggle to fill hourly craft positions

And while that figure is 10 percent lower than what the AGC reported in a similar survey last year, three-quarters of construction firms in this year’s survey think it will be even more difficult to find those workers throughout 2017.

A nationwide survey conducted by the Association General Contractors of America of 1,459 contractors found that 69 percent are having difficulty finding workers to fill hourly craft positions.

And while that figure is 10 percent lower than what the AGC reported in a similar survey last year, three-quarters of construction firms in this year’s survey think it will be even more difficult to find those workers throughout 2017.

Firms responding to the survey also report other labor woes:

  • 38 percent report difficulty finding salaried field positions.
  • 33 percent report difficulty finding salaried office positions.
  • 15 percent report difficulty finding hourly office positions.

“With the construction industry in most of the country now several years into a recovery, many firms have gone from worrying about not having enough work to not having enough workers,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for the Associated General Contractors.  “These shortages have the potential to undermine broader economic growth by forcing contractors to slow scheduled work or choose not to bid on projects, thereby inflating the cost of construction.”

Tight labor market conditions are prompting nearly half of construction firms to increase base pay rates for craft workers because of the difficulty in filling positions.  Twenty-two percent have improved employee benefits for craft workers and 20 percent report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.

Forty-eight percent of firms also report they are doing more in-house training to cope with workforce shortages while 47 percent report they are increasing overtime hours and 39 percent are increasing their use of subcontractors.  In addition, 37 percent report getting involved with career-building programs in local schools.  Twenty-one percent report they are increasing their use of labor-saving equipment, 13 percent are using offsite prefabrication and 7 percent are using virtual construction methods like BIM.

Sandherr called on federal, state and local officials to outline on the measures in the association’s Workforce Development Plan to address the growing worker shortages. In particular, he urged Congress to reform and increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, enact immigration reform and make it easier to set up charter schools and career academies that teach basic construction skills.

For full national survey results, analysis of the data and regional and state-by-state results, click here.

 

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