Construction workers will be in high demand this year in Florida amid shortage

Posted on January 8, 2019

Construction workers, both salaried and skilled, are expected to be in strong demand in 2019.

Florida contractors said they anticipate the acute shortage of construction workers in recent years to continue in 2019, even as they plan to add new projects and hire, according to a new survey and 2019 forecast released Wednesday by Associated General Contractors of America in Arlington, Va.

Nearly 80 percent of construction firms surveyed, both in Florida and nationally, said they expect ongoing difficulty in hiring enough workers for construction projects, including highways, transportation centers, schools, public buildings, retail developments and hotels.

That’s despite 52 percent of Florida contractors and 59 percent nationwide reporting they have been increasing pay and incentives to attract workers.

“The growing labor shortages are helping pay and benefits for workers and leading to in-house training,” said Stephen Sandherr, Associated General Contractors’ CEO on a conference call Wednesday.

Sandherr said while construction firms remain confident about the 2019 market, “contractors are concerned about finding qualified workers to execute projects.”

In Florida, more than one third of contractors surveyed said they could add more than 25 new workers in 2019, if they can find them, according to the survey.

Peter Dyga, president of Associated Builders & Contractors East Florida Chapter, said his group’s South Florida members have said they expect to add projects and workers over the next six months. “Our members expect everything to increase but profit margins in the next two quarters,” he said, citing price hikes on construction materials.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing are the trades most in demand, he said.

“We’ve got to do more as an industry than just study the problem. We need to recruit people to the industry, train them and get them employed,” said Dyga, whose group has trained about 80 unemployed workers on construction skills through its “craft trainee” program over the past three years.

Nationally, 79 percent of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2019, according to the survey by Associated General Contractors of America.

Contractors throughout the country say they expect construction project volume to be as high, or higher, this year than in 2018, according to the survey.

Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel.