Union Sector Anticipating Overall Growth in Contracting Industry but Already Experiencing Growing Labor Shortages
Contractors, labor representatives and owner-clients in the union construction and maintenance industry are significantly more optimistic about growth opportunities in 2017 and beyond (+20%) compared to last year, but they also report an increasing pervasiveness in union craft labor shortages,” reports The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) in a recent press release announcing the results of the 2017 Union Craft Labor Supply Survey conducted by it and the AGC-supported Construction Labor Research Council.
Over three-fourths (78%) of survey respondents project growth for 2017. This is up significantly from last year’s 58%. Growth was projected to be strongest in the Commercial/Institutional industry sector and in the Middle Atlantic and Southeast regions. The weakest growth was projected for the Utility sector and in the West North Central region.
Reported worker shortages were up from the prior year. Of the 791 respondents, drawn equally from management and union representatives, 57% said they experienced a union craft labor shortage in 2016. This compares to 52% each in 2015 and 2014. The remaining 43% of respondents said that their union workforce had the appropriate number or a surplus of workers. The Manufacturing sector had the largest reported shortage of union craft labor at 64%, while the Commercial/Institutional and Petroleum/Natural Gas/Chemical sectors had the “best” reported union labor supply.
“The key difference” according to the press release, is that “some union crafts face greater labor shortfalls than others.” The building trade reported to be in short supply by the greatest percentage of respondents (65%) was the Carpenters and Millwrights, followed by the Boilermakers (56%), Electricians (54%), and Iron Workers (52%). The most highly demanded skill was welding, which was identified four times more often (36%) than the next highest-demanded skill, equipment operator (9%).
The report features numerous data cuts based on several demographics, including respondent categories, geographic regions, and specific industry sectors. Data are presented both individually and aggregately for each of 14 crafts, including both actual staffing levels for 2015 and 2016 and projections for 2017.
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