DataDigest September 6, 2016 by Ken Simonson, AGC of America Economist

Contractors Again Report Difficulty Filling Jobs –
Filling craft positions and
some salaried positions remains a challenge for contractors, according to participants in AGC’s 2016 Workforce Survey, though slightly less so than in 2015. More than two-thirds (69%) of the 1,459 respondents stated they were having a hard time filling some hourly craft positions, AGC reported on September 1st. In addition, 38% said they were having a hard time filling some salaried field positions; 33%, salaried office positions; and 15%, hourly office positions, while 8% reported no trouble filling any positions and 9% had no openings to fill. (In the 2015 version of the survey, 79% reported difficulty filling craft positions; 52%, salaried positions.) The hardest craft positions to fill were carpenters, reported by 60% of firms that currently employ them (vs. 73% in 2015); electricians, reported by 53% (60% in 2015); roofers, 50% (56% in 2015) and plumbers, 50% (54% in 2015). As in 2015, the hardest salaried positions to fill were project managers/supervisors, 50% (55% in 2015); estimating personnel, 31% (43% in 2015); and engineers, 28% (34% in 2015). About half of respondents said their firms increased base pay rates (48% for hourly craft workers, 43% for salaried workers) because of difficulty filling positions. One-fifth of firms provided incentives/bonuses (hourly, 20%; salaried, 27%) or increased their portion of benefit contributions and/or improved employee benefits (hourly 22%; salaried, 21%). These results were similar to those in 2015. Firms used a variety of methods to respond to the difficulty in filling positions: in-house training, 48% of respondents’ firms; overtime hours, 47%; subcontractors, 39%; engage with career-building programs, 37%; interns, 35%; executive search firms, 25%; labor suppliers (craft), 24%; staffing firms and professional employer organizations (noncraft), 23%. Less common were use of labor-saving equipment, tools or machinery, 21%; unions, 18%; lean construction, 15%; offsite prefabrication, 13%; or virtual construction methods such as building information modeling, 7%. These percentages also were close to 2015 levels. 


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