The companies that build roads and buildings in North Carolina say they’re having a hard time finding workers and that it’s leading to delays and higher costs.
Of 30 contractors surveyed in the state, 96% said they are looking to hire hourly workers, and of those, 100% report having a hard time finding them.
The annual survey, released Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America, found a similar trend nationwide. The trade group says it surveyed 1,266 firms across the country.
“The results of this year’s workforce survey show that construction labor shortages remain severe,” Ken Simonson, the group’s chief economist, said at a press conference. “Ninety-three percent of firms report they have open positions they are trying to fill, and among them 91% are having trouble filling at least some of those positions, particularly among the craft workforce that performs the bulk of the on-site construction work.”
North Carolina contractors reported difficulty finding people in several trades, including carpenters, laborers, masons, concrete workers, truck drivers and pipe layers. The vast majority said the main problem is that available candidates were unqualified for the job, most often because of a lack of skills or failing a drug test.
Three-quarters of the contractors surveyed reported delays in completing projects because of a worker shortage. Ninety percent said they had increased base pay, while 40% reported providing bonuses and 37% said they had improved benefits.
But Simonson said the main challenge is developing the construction workforce. He noted that the unemployment rate among construction workers nationwide is lower than in other industries.
“That’s extraordinary for an industry that doesn’t always keep people on the payroll after one project finishes,” he said. “But at 3.5%, that essentially means there’s almost nobody out there with construction experience who’s looking for a new job in construction.”
He said the survey shows a growing number of contractors are beefing up their in-house training programs and working with high schools, colleges and trade schools to prepare workers. But the trade group also called on the federal government to invest more in career and technical programs and to “allow more workers to lawfully enter the country.”
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