New Survey Highlights Nationwide, Texas Struggles to Find Qualified Construction Workers

Whether it's houses, high rises, or roadways, there is no shortage of construction projects happening in North Texas.

But according to a new industry survey, there is a shortage of qualified construction workers.

The Associated General Contractors of America found that 80 percent of firms nationwide are having difficulty finding skilled workers. And in Texas that number was even higher -- coming in at 84 percent. 

"Texas is extremely hot -- and I'm not just talking about the weather," said Ken Simsonson, Chief Economist for AGC. "They are getting massive numbers of people moving into the state. They have huge pipeline and petro chemical projects going on, and a lot of road building, in addition to various types of building construction. Pretty much any type of construction is hot in Texas."[[558576582,C]]

The challenge, Simsonson says, is that Texas also has a low unemployment rate. That means the pool of available workers is smaller -- and contractors are having to compete even harder to hire the crews they need to complete their projects.

210 Texas firms participated in the AGC survey.

They reported having a more difficult time filling a wide range of positions -- including project managers, masons, iron workers, carpenters and plumbers -- than they did a year ago.

As a result, 43 percent of firms said construction projects were taking longer to complete than anticipated.

And 53 percent responded that they've put higher prices into bids / contracts -- in many cases to offer workers higher pay, in an effort to attract and retain them.

AGC believes there are ways to improve things.

"We think immigration should be allowed for people who have the skills to fill in where workers aren't available," said Simsonson.

He said the industry is also partnering with and investing in school districts and colleges to promote more job readiness programs that can help grow the pool of skilled workers.

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