Labor shortage: 80 percent of California’s contractors are having trouble finding qualified workers

agc autodesk survey

There’s a widespread labor shortage that is pushing up construction costs in California and through most of the country, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America) and Autodesk report in a survey.

The survey reports that 80 per cent of 2,552 U.S. construction companies surveyed said they are having difficulty hiring construction workers. This is an increase from 70 percent in 2017.

These national numbers are reflected in the California state data, where 80 percent of the 127 California companies also reported having a hard time finding construction workers, an increase from 62 percent a year ago.

AGC-Autodesk workforce survey results for California

“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.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that rising construction costs have stalled housing projects there, and some developers are now selling land rather than building. Fewer new homes will worsen the housing crisis and reduce the city’s fees for affordable housing.

State-wide, the AGC/Autodesk survey reports that 38 percent of the companies said the labor shortage has led to project cost overruns.

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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