Eighty percent of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2015 while only 7 percent expect to reduce headcounts, according to survey results released today by Associated General Contractors of America. The survey indicated that most contractors are optimistic about the year ahead and are ready to expand, but will have to cope with challenges such as worker shortages and regulatory burdens.
AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said if predictions prove true, construction industry employment could expand this year by the most in a decade. He noted that in 2014, 57 firms added to headcount. However, some companies expect to make only modest employment increases, with 90 percent of companies saying they will expand by one quarter or less.
Among the 23 states with large enough survey sample sizes, Virginia was most optimistic with 95 percent of companies planning to expand payrolls in 2015, more than any other state. Conversely, Utah was the most pessimistic with 15 percent of Utah companies reporting plans to reduce headcount.
Growing demand for private sector construction should drive growth in 2015, AGC officials said. Contractors are most optimistic about the retail/warehouse/lodging segment. They are also optimistic about the manufacturing, private office and energy construction segments.
Contractors are also optimistic about some public sector construction segments, especially those that aren’t entirely dependent on federal funding. Water and sewer construction is expected to be strong, followed by the highway market and higher education construction segments.
“Despite the overall optimism, some challenges remain for the industry,” added AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “In particular, as construction firms continue to expand, they will have a difficult time finding enough skilled construction workers.”