WASHINGTON, D.C. –Shortages of interior finishes and millworkers now ranks second, taking a big leap from its fifth place ranking in last quarter, says a new data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of contractors said they expect to employ more workers in the next six months, indicating growth in a sector that employs approximately 3 million Americans.
But finding employees is a sticking point, as the labor pool continues to tighten, and the supply of skilled and experienced workers falls - a result of younger people not entering the building trades, and older workers retiring.


Workforce issues challenge next generation managers

Challenges for finding and keeping talent in the wood manufacturing indstry include reshaping corporate culture, interfacing to customers, and facilitating the adoption of new technologies for Industry 4.0 and Lean Manufacturing. 

In the latest survey for building trades, 61 percent of Index respondents reported difficultly finding skilled workers. The contractors reported the biggest shortages in the concrete, interior finishes/millwork - now the second position - and masonry, electrical and plumbing trades.

With commercial construction in high demand across the country, contractors are confident in the trajectory of the industry, according to the June findings of a USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index. Nearly all contractors surveyed – 96 percent – expect revenues to grow or remain stable this year compared to 2016, with 40 percent expecting an increase and only 3 percent expecting a decrease in revenue.
The Index is a new quarterly economic indicator designed to gauge what drives the commercial construction industry and its leaders, including specific issues like the backlog of work, new business pipeline, revenue projections, workforce issues, and access to financing.
Given the sector’s importance to the U.S. economy and the outsized role it could play in years to come, the data contained in the Index will be vital to better understanding trends, challenges, and opportunities. The research was developed with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A), the leading provider of insights and data for the construction industry, by surveying commercial and institutional contractors.
“This first-of-its-kind Index was born out of a need to understand the issues that affect commercial construction. The Index will deliver critical insights into the future health of the industry,” said Jennifer Scanlon, president and chief executive officer of USG Corporation. “USG is committed to providing solutions for our customers in order to help the entire industry make strong contributions to the U.S. economy. Through the Index, we are able to identify areas of strength and pinpoint areas of improvement where industry leaders must focus.”
“The commercial construction industry is a vital engine for the American economy,” said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “The projected growth uncovered in this research is good news for employers and workers, but there is reason for concern in the lack of qualified talent available in vital specialties. To get our economy growing to its full potential, we must ensure that we have a workforce that is ready to fill the available jobs. Each quarter, this first-of-its-kind research will make us smarter about future challenges and inform solutions for our country’s leaders.”
The results The challenge of finding enough concrete workers has been a top concern for three consecutive quarters. In the current study, electrical ceases to be among the top three for the first time since Q4 2016, and interior finishes/millwork ranks second, a big leap from its fifth place ranking in Q2 2017.
Almost all contractors (93%) say they are concerned about the cost of skilled labor, but the majority (55%) only express a moderate level of concern. This is consistent across all regions.
The findings are consistent with Q1 2017, with a tendency toward moderate concern and away from the two extremes. If these labor cost increases occur, they are likely to impact margins on work under contract and exert upward pressure on the cost of future construction contracts.
Note: Percentages for Degree of Concern Contractors Have About Cost of Skilled Labor are based on ratings using a 10-point scale, where the three points at the bottom (1-3) indicate a high level of concern and the three points at the top (8-10) indicate a low level of concern.
Workforce issues for next generation manager are the subject of  panel July 18 at the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum in Las Vegas.

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