Currently Reading

Construction firms expect labor shortages to worsen over the next year

Industry Research

Construction firms expect labor shortages to worsen over the next year

A new AGC-Autodesk survey finds more companies turning to technology to support their jobsites.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 29, 2019

The vast majority of construction firms responding to a new survey about employee availability is finding it harder than ever to find and hire hourly craft workers. Image: AGC-Autodesk 

You’d have to be living on the moon not to know that hourly construction workers are getting scarcer. But the magnitude of this labor shortage is writ large in a recent survey, released this week by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), which found that 80% of 1,935 respondents in 23 states report having a hard time filling hourly craft positions.

More concerning are the findings that nearly three-quarters of the construction firms polled don’t expect shortages to abate over the next year, and could, in fact, get worse. And the training and skill level of the labor that is available are deemed “poor” by 45% of those polled.

It remains to be seen whether and how soon the industry can dig itself out of this hole. To attract workers, two-thirds of the survey’s respondents say they’ve boosted base pay rates, and 29% are offering incentives and bonuses. A longer-term play finds nearly half of the firms polled—46%—having launched or expanded their training programs. Half of the respondents also say their companies are involved in career-building programs.

 

 

Labor shortage problems are hitting construction firms of all sizes, and are having a deleterious effect on companies' abilities to expand their businesses. Image: AGC-Autodesk

The labor shortage is shoving a perennially tech-phobic construction industry into the 21st Century. One-quarter of respondents are using tools like drones, 3D printers, and robots. Another 23% are relying on lean construction techniques, BIM, and prefabrication.

The disruption being caused by labor shortages is also manifesting itself in costlier projects that take longer to complete. Forty-four percent of the firms polled are increasing their construction prices, and 29% are factoring longer lead times into their bids.

“Workforce shortages remain one of the most significant threats to the construction industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “However, construction labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens.”

 

 

This chart, based on 964 responses from firms with $50 million or less in work results, shows how contractors are struggling to find salaried, as well as hourly, workers. Image: AGC-Autodesk

 

Over the past two years, AGC has secured $145 million in federal funding for career and technical education programs. It is urging the federal government to increase that funding, and to allow construction students to qualify for federal Pell Grants, which would make it easier for firms to establish apprenticeship programs.

More quixotic—given the Trump Administration’s virulent anti-immigration stance—is AGC’s call for the government to let more immigrants into the U.S. to work construction.

Related Stories

Multifamily Housing | Sep 1, 2021

Top 10 outdoor amenities at multifamily housing developments for 2021

Fire pits, lounge areas, and covered parking are the most common outdoor amenities at multifamily housing developments, according to new research from Multifamily Design+Construction.

Industry Research | Aug 19, 2021

BD+C Market Intelligence Reports

Exclusive research, data, and trends reports from the editors of Building Design+Construction. 

Resiliency | Aug 19, 2021

White paper outlines cost-effective flood protection approaches for building owners

A new white paper from Walter P Moore offers an in-depth review of the flood protection process and proven approaches.

Multifamily Housing | Jul 7, 2021

Make sure to get your multifamily amenities mix right

​One of the hardest decisions multifamily developers and their design teams have to make is what mix of amenities they’re going to put into each project. A lot of squiggly factors go into that decision: the type of community, the geographic market, local recreation preferences, climate/weather conditions, physical parameters, and of course the budget. The permutations are mind-boggling.

AEC Tech | May 24, 2021

Digital twin’s value propositions for the built environment, explained

Ernst & Young’s white paper makes its cases for the technology’s myriad benefits.

Industry Research | May 20, 2021

Latest ULI report forecasts robust real estate rebound

It’s going to take some time, though, for the office sector to recover

Industry Research | Apr 9, 2021

BD+C exclusive research: What building owners want from AEC firms

BD+C’s first-ever owners’ survey finds them focused on improving buildings’ performance for higher investment returns.

Market Data | Feb 24, 2021

2021 won’t be a growth year for construction spending, says latest JLL forecast

Predicts second-half improvement toward normalization next year.

Healthcare Facilities | Feb 18, 2021

The Weekly show, Feb 18, 2021: What patients want from healthcare facilities, and Post-COVID retail trends

This week on The Weekly show, BD+C editors speak with AEC industry leaders from JLL and Landini Associates about what patients want from healthcare facilities, based on JLL's recent survey of 4,015 patients, and making online sales work for a retail sector recovery.

Market Data | Jan 19, 2021

2021 construction forecast: Nonresidential building spending will drop 5.7%, bounce back in 2022

Healthcare and public safety are the only nonresidential construction sectors that will see growth in spending in 2021, according to AIA's 2021 Consensus Construction Forecast.

More In Category




Multifamily Housing

Make sure to get your multifamily amenities mix right

​One of the hardest decisions multifamily developers and their design teams have to make is what mix of amenities they’re going to put into each project. A lot of squiggly factors go into that decision: the type of community, the geographic market, local recreation preferences, climate/weather conditions, physical parameters, and of course the budget. The permutations are mind-boggling.


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: