A whopping nine out of ten contractors in the United States now say they are concerned about the ongoing labor shortage, per the Q2 2018 United States Gypsum + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index.
On top of that, 47% of contractors said they expect their ability to find adequate labor will become even worse during the rest of the year.
It is the fourth consecutive quarter in which construction companies have expressed serious concerns about their ability to find a sufficient number of qualified workers to be able to keep up with demand.
As we've reported, the concern is especially pronounced in the Houston area following last year's devastating hurricane season. The problems in Texas are compounded by the planned end of the program that shields some qualified immigrants from deportation and the state's adoption of a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants.
There was already an “extreme” shortage of workers in Southeast Texas prior to Hurricane Harvey, said Stan Marek, President and CEO of MAREK back in September.
“Now that we have this terrible catastrophe, I don’t know where we’re going to get the workers to rebuild Houston.” Marek said the construction industry’s challenge in finding a robust workforce will be much different from the aftermath of previous disasters like Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
The fact that contractors are concerned about labor supply is also driven by high confidence that the need for commercial construction will continue to rise.
96% said they believe the demand for commercial construction services will increase in the next 12 months.
The current contractor backlog is a little more than nine months, per this survey, with 73% of optimal levels but still strong with room to grow. There has also been an increase up to 52% of contractors who expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months. That’s’ an increase of 12% from this same time last year.
The threat of trade wars with both this nation's allies and adversarial counties is driving contractor worries about the cost of supplies, with a particular concern about the price of steel. Worries about that are up more than 30% from a year ago at 63% in the second quarter.
More than 85% of those surveyed expect U.S. steel tariffs to have some impact on their businesses.
The full survey results are here.