AGC Joins Hiring Our Heroes Program

The Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va., has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program as part of the construction industry’s effort to add 100,000 veterans during the next five years. The new partnership will make it easier for construction contractors to find, recruit and hire veterans.

“The only thing keeping many of our members from hiring vets is figuring out how to find them,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “This new partnership will make it easier for construction firms to find, recruit and hire veterans.”

The association’s members, commercial and civil construction firms across the country, are committed to hiring at least 100,000 veterans within five years, Sandherr adds. The new partnership comes at a time when two-thirds of construction firms report having a hard time finding skilled workers to fill positions. The partnership with Hiring Our Heroes will make it easier for firms to fill vacancies with highly qualified workers and will be a key part of the association’s Workforce Development Plan.

“Construction firms are always eager to hire veterans because they make such great professionals,” Sandherr notes. “As the economy continues to expand, our members will be looking to hire even more veterans than they already do.”

The association will begin distributing information to its members and state and local chapters about the new partnership and help recruit expanding construction firms to participate in job fairs and other hiring events organized by Hiring Our Heroes.

Construction Employment Jumps by the Largest Monthly Amount in Nearly Seven Years

Construction employment jumped by the largest monthly amount in nearly seven years in January, bringing industry employment to the highest level since July 2009, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Construction employment totaled 5,922,000 in January, the highest total in four-and-one-half years and an increase of 48,000 from a month earlier—the largest one-month gain since April 2007. For the year, construction employment rose by 179,000, or 3.1 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent for total nonfarm payroll employment. Nonresidential construction firms added 31,300 new jobs in January and 57,100 (1.6 percent) over 12 months while residential firms added 16,800 jobs for the month and 121,400 (5.8 percent) during the year. The unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 16.1 percent in January 2013 to 12.3 percent in January 2014—the lowest January rate since 2008.

Survey Finds Labor Shortages Are Increasing

Nearly three-fourths of construction firms across the country report they are having trouble finding qualified craft workers to fill key spots, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va. Association officials called for immigration- and education-reform measures to help avoid worker shortages.

Of the 74 percent of responding firms that are having a hard time finding qualified craft workers, the most frequently reported difficulties are in filling onsite construction jobs, like carpenters, equipment operators and laborers. Fifty-three percent are having a hard time filling professional positions, especially project supervisors, estimators and engineers.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers; 72 percent say the market for professional positions will remain hard or get worse. Seventy-four percent of respondents report there are not enough qualified craft workers available to meet future demand while 49 percent said there weren’t enough construction professionals available.

To prepare future construction workers, 48 percent of responding firms are mentoring future craft workers; 38 percent are participating in career fairs; and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies. In addition, 47 percent of responding firms are offering internships for construction professionals.

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, says Congress needs to jettison arbitrary caps on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the Senate passed in 2013. “Lifting those restrictions will go a long way to ensuring construction jobs left vacant by domestic labor shortages go to workers who are in the country legally,” he says.

Sandherr urges elected and appointed officials to do more to ensure public-school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach skills, like construction. He adds skills-based programs offer students a more hands-on way to learn vital 21st century skills, such as math and science. Such programs also have been proven to reduce dropout rates and give students an opportunity to earn the higher pay and benefits that come with construction jobs.

Nearly 700 construction firms participated in the survey. View the national survey results and analysis, as well as results for 15 states with larger survey samples.

Construction Unemployment Rate Falls

The unemployment rate for construction workers fell to the lowest July level in five years, even though employment has stagnated in the past four months, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged Washington leaders to act on stalled infrastructure funding measures to help jump start construction hiring. The unemployment rate for workers who last worked in construction declined to 9.1 percent from 12.3 percent in July 2012, not seasonally adjusted, and the number of unemployed construction workers dropped by 227,000 to 767,000. Construction employment in July totaled 5,793,000, seasonally adjusted, up by 166,000, or 3 percent, from July 2012 but down by 6,000 from the revised June level. Although residential and nonresidential contractors have added workers in the past year, employment growth in July occurred only on the residential side.