Construction Companies Report Shortages of Craft Workers

November 27, 2017

As demand for construction continues to grow, a large majority of construction firms report that they are having a hard time filling the hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce, according to the results of a recent industry-wide survey conducted by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.

 

The survey of the more than 1,600 construction firms was conducted in July and early August. The findings showed that 70% of firms are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions, and that 67% of firms say it will continue to be hard, or get harder, to find hourly craft workers this year. The craft worker shortages were found to be the most severe in the West, where 75% of contractors said they are having a hard time filling those positions, followed by in the Midwest, where 72% indicated that are having difficulties finding craft workers. Large shares of respondents in the South (70%) and in the Northeast (63%) also reported craft labor shortages.


Researchers noted that many firms are responding to the craft worker shortages by changing the way
they operate, recruit, and compensate. Most of the surveyed firms reported that they are making special efforts to recruit and retain veterans (79%), women (70%), and African Americans (64%). Half of respondents said they are increasing base pay rates for craft workers, 20% indicated they have improved employee benefits for craft workers, and 24% reported they are providing incentives and bonuses to attract workers.

 

In addition, 46% of the firms polled reported that they are doing more in-house training to cope with
workforce shortages, while 47% said they are increasing overtime hours, and 41% said they are increasing their use of subcontractors. Other steps the respondents reported taking include increasing their use of labor-saving equipment (22%), using offsite prefabrication (11%), and using virtual construction methods like BIM (7%).

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