86% of Contractors Face Worker Shortage, AGC Says.

Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) surveyed 1,360 construction firms and found 86 percent have difficulty finding qualified workers. That’s up from 2014 and 2013, when the numbers were 83 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

The survey also found that 89 percent of construction companies plan to hire additional workers. “Bringing more young people into the industry is a top priority,” said Ken Naquin, CEO of the Louisiana Associated General Contractors.

As labor shortages grow more severe, competition for workers is heating up, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson added. He noted that 36 percent of firms report losing hourly craft professionals to other local construction firms, and 21 percent to other industries locally. Thirteen percent of responding firms report losing workers to construction firms in other locations. Growing competition for workers is prompting 56 percent of firms to increase base pay rates for hourly craft professionals.

Moreover, 43 percent of firms have increased their reliance on subcontractors because of tight labor conditions. And worker shortages also appear to be impacting safety, with 15 percent of firms reporting an increase in injuries and illnesses because of worker shortages, Simonson added.

“This is probably the single largest issue in the construction industry—the lack of qualified and experienced talent, at all levels: not just field labor, but project engineering, project management, leadership, etc.” says Brian Cooper, managing director of Arthur J. Gallagher’s National Construction Practice. “There’s just a dearth of experienced and talented people.”

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