The survey shows that 80 percent of 2,552 U.S. construction companies indicate they are having difficulty hiring construction workers. This is an increase from 70 percent in 2017.
The labor shortage is somewhat less severe in Illinois, where state data indicates 68 percent of the 60 companies surveyed reported having a hard time finding trades workers and 47 percent reported problems in hiring salaried employees. The greatest difficulties in hiring are for pipefitters/welders, painters and bricklayers.
“What was striking was how universal the difficulty was filling craft positions,” AGC chief economist Ken Simonson told reporters in a conference call. “Now they’re saying no, our bench is empty.”
Simonson said the construction industry is investing in more advertising and workforce training and seeking more government funding as it tries to attract more workers. It is also pushing for immigration reform that encourages skilled workers to be allowed legally to enter the U.S.
“You can’t just call back someone who was laid off a few years ago,” Simonson said. A challenge is educating prospective workers that construction isn’t a “dirty, dead-end career.”
Some construction workers can earn six figures a year without a college degree, based on federal average wage data.