Just 7 percent of firms expect to reduce staff this year, according to the survey, which is part of Ready to Hire Again: The 2015 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook. The survey shows that the majority of contractors are optimistic about the year ahead, despite concerns about worker shortages and regulatory burdens.
Only 57 percent of the firms surveyed actually added to their headcounts in 2014, and those that expect to grow this year plan to do so modestly -- 90 percent think they will expand by one-quarter or less this year.
The AGC survey gives state-by-state results, which show that Virginia has the most companies planning to grow and Utah has the most planning to shrink. The survey also shows that private sector construction is expected to drive the most grown, especially the retail/warehouse/lodging segment of the industry.
The industry is also optimistic about some public sector construction segments -- those not relying on federal funding -- especially water and sewer construction. Marine construction and direct federal construction, however, are areas of concern for contractors.
Among those firms who are planning to add workers, 87 percent said they had a hard time finding key professional and craft workers. Most companies would like lawmakers in Washington to make finding easier ways to prepare the next generation of skilled workers a priority, like those outlined in the AGC's Workforce Development Plan, rather than focusing on increasing environmental and workforce regulations.
The AGC plans to continue efforts like Hardhats for Highways, a campaign to educate Congress about the need for new federal infrastructure investiments, and would continue working to get the current administration to revise its regulatory stance. The AGC hopes these things will make it easier to find new employees and continue doing business in an ever-changing economic environment.
The survey also discovered that most companies surveyed also plan to add new construction equipment in 2015. Seventy-nine percent of firms plan to purchase new equipment, while 81 percent plan to lease. The scope of investment is estimated to be $250,000 or less for each firm.
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