Construction firms, desperate for workers, bump pay

The shortage of qualified workers at construction firms is becoming more widespread, according to a new report, and the industry is raising pay as it desperately seeks to combat the epidemic.

Eighty percent of firms are having trouble finding hourly craft employees, according to a survey released Wednesday by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Additionally, 56 percent cannot find enough qualified applicants to fill salaried jobs, including project supervisors and managers.

The shortage has ballooned across all regions of the country, which has caused firms to increase pay and add other incentives in order to attract qualified personnel.

Over the past year, 62 percent of firms raised pay for hourly craft workers, while 56 percent did so for salaried employees. More than one-quarter added incentives or bonuses for hourly employees, while 34 percent did so for full-time employees. Nearly one out of four firms improved benefit contributions or employee benefits for all employees.

Meanwhile, certain open jobs can net prospective applicants salaries in the six figures, as previously reported by FOX Business. Some of those positions include welders, foremen and even some craft professionals, like instrument techs and crane operators.

Industry leaders are not confident the employment picture will turn around in the near future, with more than 80 percent of firms telling AGC it will continue to be hard to find hourly craft workers throughout the remainder of the year.

Industry leaders also expressed a lack of confidence in the skills among the pipeline of prospective workers, encouraging a greater focus on workforce development and education programs.

The industry is struggling to attract younger employees, as it seeks to combat perception challenges and changing workforce conditions.

The shortage is having an economic impact as the demand for construction grows. Projects under way are taking longer to complete and costing more than anticipated, causing firms to factor these increased expenses into their bids.

As previously reported by FOX Business, the lack of workers in the construction industry is one factor leading to a serious lack of inventory in the housing market, which has caused costs to spike and has priced some first-time buyers out of the market completely.

As the U.S. labor market continues to tighten, the construction industry isn’t the only sector plagued by a shortage of qualified applicants. There is also a notable shortage of truck drivers, which is causing companies to raise wages for those employees as well.