The nationwide commercial construction sector has more work, and more profitable work, than it's had in years, but the main challenge — lack of labor — continues to fester.
That's the main takeaway from the latest USG Corp. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index, released late last month.
Nearly every contractor surveyed for the index this summer, 95%, expects revenue to grow or remain stable over the next 12 months compared to the prior 12 months, the index reports. Also, a strong majority, 93%, expect to see profit margins stay the same or increase in the next 12 months, the survey adds.
More good news: respondents report holding a 9.5-month project backlog, “indicating a steady market and healthy amount of booked work,” the report states. And more than half of all contractors, 54%, report high confidence in obtaining new business over the next 12 months.
Yet the labor shortage is causing anxiety across the industry, the report found, particularly in the South, where the challenges are exacerbated on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents, 60%, say they are having difficulty finding skilled workers. That number bumps up to 66% in the south.
It's not only a labor shortage, but also a possible decrease in quality that has builders worried. To wit: more than nine out of 10, 91% of the respondents, say they are at least “moderately concerned about the skill level of the workforce.”