AGC survey indicates NC market optimism, tempered by challenges in recruiting skilled workers

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North Carolina contractors are feeling modestly optimistic about their prospects for 2018, but many are struggling to recruit enough skilled workers, according to a report from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGGA).

Expecting Growth to Continue: The 2018 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook,” shows that 75 percent of construction firms nationwide plan to expand their payrolls in 2018, based on the feeling that economic conditions will remain strong as tax rates and regulatory burdens fall.

Nationwide, “construction firms appear to be very optimistic about 2018 as they expect demand for all types of construction services to continue to expand,” AGCA CEO Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO, said in a statement. “This optimism is likely based on current economic conditions, an increasingly business-friendly regulatory environment and expectations that the Trump administration will boost infrastructure investments.”

survey by sector
Some 48 percent of North Carolina Contractors expect to grow this year, while 44 percent expect things will remain the same. Only 8 percent expect a decline. Results vary based on sector/specialty

The survey indicates that in North Carolina, contractors overall anticipate a relatively stable business environment this year, with 48 per cent expecting growth, eight per cent expecting a decline, and 44 per cent anticipating things will be about the same as the previous year.

The most optimistic sector for growth is power, while there is an expectation of a decline in the multifamily residential sector.

Significantly, the majority of contractors anticipate increasing their headcount; with 33 percent expecting to add 1-10 employees, 22 percent increasing by 11-25 and 19 percent anticipating increasing headcount by more than 25.

The majority of contractors (74 percent) say they are having a hard time filling both salaried and craft worker positions, while 74 percent expect the trend to continue through the year.

The report shows that 63 percent of the construction firms that were polled increased their base pay in 2017 to help recruit and retain workers, while 33 percent increased contributions/improved employee benefits and 26 percent provided incentives or bonuses.