Survey: Construction firms in Wisconsin having trouble hiring

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:58 am

Just over 80 percent of Wisconsin construction firms say they are having a hard time filling positions, according to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America.

More than 80 percent of the construction firms in Wisconsin say they are having a hard time finding workers for open positions.

The figure includes roughly 40 percent of the respondents saying it is difficult to hire in salaried positions like project manager or supervisor and hourly craft positions like carpenter, laborer or equipment operator. One-third said it is just the craft worker positions giving them trouble.

Just 7 percent expect it to be easier moving forward to find and hire qualified construction professionals.

The survey included 39 respondents who listed Wisconsin as the state where their firm performs the largest amount of its work.

The shortage of workers was one of the biggest concerns for the respondents with 68 percent saying it was among the top challenges. Other issues included worker quality, rising direct labor costs and increased competition for projects.

Despite the challenges, 46 percent of respondents said they expect the available dollar volume on all projects they compete for in 2016 to increase, while 36 percent said it would remain the same.

The gap between those who expect higher volume and those expecting a lower dollar volume was largest on private office projects at 25 percent. Hospitals, manufacturing, and retail, warehouse and lodging were also high on the list.

Roughly a quarter of the surveyed firms said they expect no change or a decrease in their headcount in 2016, while 44 percent said they will increase by between one and five individuals. Fifteen percent are eyeing an increase of between six and 15, while another 15 percent expect to grow by more than 16 individuals.

Half of those surveyed were organizations with less than 50 employees and overall, two-thirds said they expect to grow by under 25 percent.

Construction employment in the state has grown over the last five years. In the second quarter of 2015, average monthly employment was 113,607 up from 105,735 the previous year, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The figure was 96,442 in 2011.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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