Hourly Craft Positions Lack Workers

Aug. 30, 2017

The construction industry is still dealing with a major worker shortage. A majority of construction firms are having a hard time filling hourly craft openings, according to data released this week from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

There were more than 1,600 survey respondents, and 70% said they were struggling to fill the positions. “In the short term, fewer firms will be able to bid on construction projects if they are concerned they will not have enough workers to meet demand,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr in a release. “Over the long term, either construction firms will find a way to do more with fewer workers or public officials will take steps to encourage more people to pursue careers in construction.”

Three out of four respondents in the West said they are having difficulty filling positions, while the Midwest and South were at 72% and 70%, respectively. The Northeast respondents came in at 63%.

Because of the difficulty to fill the craft positions, firms are changing the way they “operate, recruit and compensate,” said Sandherr. More than 40% of respondents said they have increased their use of subcontractors during the worker shortage. “The ongoing labor drought continues to put pressure on the already high-risk, low-margin construction industry,” said Sarah Hodges, director of the construction business line at Autodesk, a construction software firm that partnered with AGC for the survey.

More than 40% of respondents expect the hiring of craft positions to be hard over the next 12 months. Currently, at least 50% of respondents said they are having trouble finding carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, concrete workers and plumbers. Roofers, painters and pipelayers were among the other crafts surveyed.

This news couldn’t have come at a worse time following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast more than a decade ago, an Associated Press article in the Washington Post reported the region was in demand for 30,000 to 100,000 workers.

– Michael Miller, editorial associate

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