Regional Contractors Scramble to Find Enough Skilled Labor
The consensus among large regional contractors is that 2016 is proving to be stronger than last year in terms of revenue and work opportunities. “There’s still plenty of work available, but the shortage of experienced workers is growing more acute,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC of America.
“Construction employment in Colorado has grown by 10,700 employees, up by 8.9%, mostly in the Denver area,” says Michael Gifford, president, AGC Colorado.
CEOs cite ongoing strength in the health care, hospitality, multifamily, office and transportation sectors. “One pleasant surprise has been the big companies and big projects we’ve seen coming to Utah,” says Brett Okland, vice president, Okland Construction.
“The private market in Utah, coupled with some large public projects like the Salt Lake City Airport, the new Utah State Prison and some big heavy highway work further challenge our workforce capacity,” adds Rich Thorn, president and CEO, AGC of Utah.
In Colorado, the construction value of new permits is expected to grow nearly 10%, to $16.8 billion in 2016 from $15.3 billion in 2015, says Mark M. Latimer, president and CEO, Associated Builders and Contractors, Rocky Mountain Chapter. But, he says, “The failure by the state legislature to pass reasonable construction-defect-litigation reform was devastating to the state’s for-sale multifamily sector.”
Wayne Hammon, CEO, Idaho AGC, says, “Construction is booming all across Idaho, especially in the Treasure Valley, and 2017 is expected to be just as bright.”
However, not so with mining states like Wyoming are Montana. “Vertical builders report a robust year, but highway firms are uneasy because state fuel-tax collections are not adequate,” says Cary Hegreberg, Montana AGC. “We will ask our legislature to consider all options when the session convenes in January.”