New Study: Union Construction Industry Less Optimistic On Growth in 2016, Split on Labor Supply Levels
ARLINGTON, VA - Contractors, labor representatives and owner-clients in the union construction and maintenance industry are less optimistic about growth opportunities in 2016, and remain split over whether there are enough qualified union craftworkers to meet potential demand.
These are just two findings of the wide-ranging new 2016 Union Labor Supply Survey report released by The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) and produced 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.
This second annual report builds on last year's landmark initial study (click here to view), providing even more detail, data cuts and historical analysis. TAUC and CLRC utilized a rigorous scientific methodology to analyze nearly 800 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.
In addition to overall findings, the study also features numerous data cuts based on several demographics, including respondent categories, geographic regions and specific industries. Data are presented for each of 14 crafts individually, as well as aggregated, including both actual 2015 staffing levels and projections for 2016.
Highlights of the study include:
OUTLOOK LESS POSITIVE FOR GROWTH
- This year, just over half (57%) of all respondents said they expect the industry to grow to varying degrees. That percentage is down significantly from the 72% who expected overall growth in 2015. However, there are bright spots. For instance, 17% projected "very strong growth" of 10% or more in the construction and maintenance industry; that's almost double the percentage from last year (9%).The percentage of those expecting "strong growth" of 7% to 9% remained unchanged from last year at 11%. (PAGE 12)
- Labor remains more optimistic about growth than other sectors. Over 75% of union representatives projected growth in 2016, compared to just over 60% of contractors/subcontractors. (PAGE 14)
INDUSTRY STILL SPLIT ON LABOR SUPPLY LEVELS
- Just over half (52%) of all respondents said they had experienced a union craft labor shortage in the previous year (2015). This was the same percentage that reported a shortage in 2014. (PAGE 19)
- Union/labor respondents reported the lowest shortage rates (41%) and the highest surplus rates (27%). Construction managers reported the highest shortage rates (77%), followed by owner-clients (66%) and contractors/subcontractors (62%). (PAGE 20)
- An average 39% of respondents experienced a craft labor supply shortage in the previous year (2015), while just 16% reported a surplus. (PAGE 27)
- 55% of respondents said they experienced a shortage of Carpenters in 2015, the highest of the 14 building trades; they were followed by Boilermakers (49% reported a shortage), Iron Workers (48%) and Plumbers/Pipefitters/Steamfitters (47%). (PAGE 27)
"This year's Labor Supply Survey report is second to none in its level of detail and analysis," said TAUC CEO Steve Lindauer. "We listened to last year's respondents, many of whom asked for more data. The result is an extremely comprehensive report that will help the entire tripartite community - contractors, labor and owner-clients - prepare for the challenges that await us in 2016 and beyond."