While construction employment expanded in 223 metro areas in the past year, 25% of firms report labor shortages that are forcing them to turn down work, according to recent analyses by the Associated General Contractors and SmartBrief, a business news and custom content provider.
“Many construction firms looking to expand their payrolls are finding a surprisingly tight labor market,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “These expanding labor shortages threaten to impact construction schedules as firms struggle to find enough qualified workers.”
The AGC analysis found that two-thirds of firms report having experienced labor shortages during the past year.
Shortages are also having an impact on construction salaries, with 70% of firms reporting they are paying more for skilled labor than they did last year. About 13% of respondents described those wage increases as “significant.”
Responding firms noted that carpenters, project managers and supervisors are the hardest positions to fill right now. They are also having difficulty finding qualified laborers, estimators, electricians, plumbers and ironworkers.
According to the survey results, labor shortages appear more widespread in the South and Midwest than in the Northeast or West.
About half of the more than 500 AGC survey respondents are contractors, with 28% of them subcontractors.
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (9,400 jobs, 8%), followed by Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (8,900 jobs, 5%) and Philadelphia, Pa. (8,500 jobs, 12%). The largest percentage gains occurred in Lake Charles, La. (27%, 2,900 jobs), Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Fla. (26%, 1,000 jobs) and Monroe, Mich. (23%, 500 jobs).
Construction employment also declined in 72 metro areas and was stagnant in 44 others between July 2013 and July 2014, according to data analyzed.
The largest job losses from July 2013 to July 2014 were in Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (-4,800 jobs, -5%), followed by Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. (-3,500 jobs, -10%) and Newark-Union, N.J. (-2,500 jobs, -7%).
The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (-22%, -400 jobs), followed by Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J. (-16%, -400 jobs), Cheyenne, Wyo. (-12%, -500 jobs) and Fond du Lac, Wis. (-12%, -300 jobs).
AGC officials say the survey results underscore the need for action on a series of measures outlined in the group's Workforce Development Plan. Those measures detail steps that federal, state and local officials should take to make it easier for schools, associations and businesses to establish career-training and education programs.