Labor shortage: 79 percent of New York contractors are having trouble finding qualified workers

agc new york survey results
The AGC/Autodesk survey shows the scale of the labor shortage, especially for installers and plumbers.

A widespread labor shortage is pushing up construction through most of the country, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America) and Autodesk reports in a survey.

The New York state data indicates conditions are similar to nation as a whole, with 79 percent of the state’s contractors saying they “are having a hard time in filling some or all positions”. Shortages are especially acute for installers and plumbers.

Nationally, 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.

AGC-Autodesk workforce survey results for New York

On a national level, “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.


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