Steel Markets

AGC Report Highlights Craft Worker Shortage

Written by Sandy Williams

Labor shortages are highlighted in a new survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk.

In a survey of more than 25,000 respondents, 80 percent of firms report they cannot find enough hourly craft workers to fill the positions that make up the bulk of the construction industry. The problem is widespread across the U.S., said AGC.

“Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “The best way to encourage continued economic growth, make it easier to rebuild aging infrastructure and place more young adults into high-paying careers is to address construction workforce shortages.”

Construction demand has expanded in 281 of 358 metro areas between July 2017 and July 2018, according to AGC data. The growing demand means it will continue to be hard to fill craft worker positions this year.

Sarah Hodges, senior director of the construction business line at Autodesk says technology can help to bridge the gap. “More firms are bringing training in-house to implement digital strategies such as building information modeling, or BIM, to ease staffing challenges and train the next generation of industry professionals.”

The report shows that firms are using a combination of wage increases, employee benefits and bonuses to attract and retain craft workers. Sixty-two percent of construction firms surveyed are raising base rates to attract craft workers, 24 percent have improved employee benefits and 25 percent report they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers. Use of labor saving equipment and virtual construction methods has increased at 24 percent of firms.

The labor shortage is causing firms to increase their bid prices and add longer completion times into their bids. 

A new Workforce Development Plan was also released last week to identify steps that the federal government can take to support construction workforce development. AGC suggests doubling the funding for career and technical education, as well as allowing more skilled foreign construction workers to legally enter and work in the U.S.

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