A recent survey released by the Association Of General Contractors (AGC) revealed what many would consider to be wonderful news. The survey, part of the larger AGC report Ready to Hire Again: The 2015 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook indicated that the ailing construction industry has rebounded so well, that 80% of construction firms plan to increase their staff size in 2015. This is certainly an improvement over the 57% expansion reported in 2014. Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC's chief executive officer indicated that if survey participants' predictions are correct, 2015 is shaping up to be the year in which our industry will see the most growth in a decade. Contractors anticipate filling an approximate 6000 positions this year alone. Not only that, but based on construction work projections over the next decade, industry estimates are that not only will 6,000 positions be filled this year, but every year for the next ten years, meaning a total of 60,000 new construction workers by 2025.
It should be noted that when survey results are further broken down, they are not uniformly rosy. 7% of survey respondents indicated that they would be reducing payroll, and some states, such as Utah are seeing a decline in jobs in the construction industry. are seeing a decline in construction work. Individually, firms projected that their hiring expansion would be "modest". But many survey participants indicated that they are now having a much easier time obtaining credit than they did within the last decade, and 79% of survey respondents indicated that they anticipated purchasing buying or leasing new equipment in 2015.
Survey participants felt most new work would be commercial/retail/energy related, with a lot of potential hotel/warehouse work as well. An increase in infrastructure projects funded by state/local governments is forecast. Participants felt that due to cuts in Federal funding, large scale infrastructure and marine work would decline.
So. Lots of new work, friendly financial institutions, and shiny new equipment! What's not to love about this survey? Unfortunately, participants didn’t have all good news to report on the construction industry employment.
The largest problem survey participants see moving forward into this Golden Age Of Construction is a lack of qualified workers to fill these open positions. The Great Recession is the major culprit here; many qualified workers who were laid off retired or moved into other fields of work. Others went overseas to pursue construction work, and the incentives there were too great to compel them to return. Currently, the industry is hurting for craft workers and project managers, supervisors, and estimators. 76% of survey participants said they were having trouble filling craft worker positions, while 62% were having trouble finding qualified professional applicants. To compensate for these gaps, firms indicated that they were relying on overtime. More firms are now sweetening their benefits packages to retain skilled workers, as well.
To see the entire survey, go to: http://www.agc.org/galleries/news/2015_Outlook_Survey_National.pdf
To see the AGC report in its entirety, go to: http://www.agc.org/galleries/default-file/2015%20Construction%20Hiring%20and%20Business%20Outlook%20Report.pdf