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New Construction/Maintenance Study: Contractors, Unions Bullish on Growth, But Labor Shortage Fears

CLICK ON COVER TO READ REPORTARLINGTON, VA - Optimism about future job opportunities and market growth in 2018 and beyond remains high among union contractors, labor representatives and owner-clients - but at the same time, many remain concerned about a growing shortage of union craft workers.

That's one of the key takeaways from the fourth annual Union Craft Labor Supply Study, recently released by The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) in conjunction with the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC). It is designed to give construction professionals an in-depth understanding of the current state of union labor supply in the construction and maintenance industry throughout the United States.


TAUC and CLRC utilized a rigorous scientific methodology to analyze nearly 750 responses to a multi-question survey sent earlier this year to a cross-section of contractors, union representatives and owner-clients. The large sample size and carefully worded questions combine to make this one of the most useful labor supply reports available, and the only union-specific study focusing on construction and maintenance.

This year's report builds on previous studies (see bottom of page for links) and feedback from respondents to provide even more detail, data cuts and historical trend analysis. New to the study this year is an examination of two key issues: absenteeism and safety.

TAUC and its partners in labor believe that a data-driven approach is the only way to achieve our shared goals of planning for the future and increasing union market share.

Highlights of the study include:

Outlook Remains Optimistic for Growth. Over three-fourths (78%) of the study participants project growth for 2018 in the construction and maintenance industry. This is up significantly from two years ago (58%) and the same as last year. Union/labor representatives were the most optimistic about growth, and the manufacturing industry has the strongest growth prospects.

Shortage of Union Craft Workers Grows. More respondents in the study reported that union craft worker shortages in their organization in 2017 were greater than in previous years. However, although a union craft labor shortage is prevalent, the vast majority of those with a shortage said it was a small shortage. Moreover, many also reported a surplus or the right number of workers in their organization.

Absenteeism. Thirty-five percent of the sample said they had a measurable union craft absenteeism rate in their organization. Of those, most reported a 1-10% rate. The civil industry had the lowest amount of absenteeism, the utility industry the highest. The Northwest region had the lowest absenteeism rate, while the New England and Southeast regions the highest.

Perceived Link Between Labor Shortage and Safety Incidents. Two-thirds of the participants in the study believe that a labor shortage is related to a greater number of safety incidents.

For more details on these highlights, download the complete report here.