Less than half the construction companies across the country plan to hire new workers in 2014, while more than half say they are having problems finding skilled workers.
That’s according to an Associated General Contractors of America survey of more than 800 contractors nationwide, the results of which were released Tuesday.
Only 2 percent plan to lay off workers in 2014, according to the survey, while higher spending is expected in 10 of the 11 industry segments included in the survey.
There’s reason for optimism in the industry, said Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer.
“2014 should be a better year for the construction industry than any year since 2009,” Sandherr said.
There were 19 total survey respondents in Wisconsin, but not all questions were answered by all participants.
A majority of Wisconsin respondents expect there to be more money for construction in manufacturing, hospitals, higher education, retail, warehouse, lodging and private offices. A majority also predicted construction spending on highway, other transportation and K-12 schools would stay the same.
Forty-three percent of Wisconsin respondents expect water and sewer construction spending will be down in 2014, but the same percentage predicts it will be higher.
Half the Wisconsin respondents said they would hire new employees in 2014, but the question was only answered by four participants. Of those planning to hire, two responded saying they would hire five or fewer people.
Wisconsin was in line with nationwide numbers when it came to difficulties filling vacancies, with 24 percent of Wisconsin and national respondents reporting difficulty filling both professional and craft worker positions. The positions most contractors had difficulty filling in Wisconsin include estimating professionals, project managers and supervisors, engineers, bricklayers, ironworkers and laborers, according to the survey.
For 2014, 67 percent of Wisconsin respondents said finding skilled craft workers will only get harder, and 56 percent said the same about professional workers.
According to some Wisconsin firms, they are losing professional and craft workers to other industries or other firms in their area, and are using higher base pay and improved benefits to hire and retain workers.
Healthcare costs went up in 2013 for 83 percent of Wisconsin respondents, according to the survey, and 89 percent expect costs to go up again in 2014.
Meanwhile, the majority of Wisconsin companies said material costs also went up between December 2012 and December 2013. However, 56 percent say the increase was between 1 and 5 percent, and half expect the 2014 cost increase to be in that range.
Overall, 39 percent of Wisconsin respondents say they expect the construction market to grow in 2014. The remaining 61 percent say it will not grow again until 2015 or later.