Union Sector Continues to Expect Growth Amid Small but Prevalent Craft Worker Shortages

May 17, 2019

Union contractors, labor representatives, and construction owner-clients alike project strong, stable growth in 2019, report The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) and the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC) in their recently released fifth annual Union Craft Labor Supply Study.  At the same time, survey respondents report growing craft labor shortages.  The report shows that craft labor shortages in the union construction and maintenance industries are prevalent – reported in 69 percent of organizations – but are generally small, with 54 percent of respondents estimating a 12.5 percent shortage of craft workers.  About a third of respondents reported no shortage or a surplus of workers.

The study reports that 44 percent of contractors did not bid on some work due to craft worker shortages, with electricians being the biggest concern, followed by plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, iron workers, and carpenters and millwrights.  Crafts with the most substantial shortages in 2018 were the boilermakers, iron workers, and carpenters and millwrights.  The same crafts are projected to be in short supply in 2019, along with the painters and allied trades.

The key finding of the report – reported optimism about job opportunities amid concerns about growing craft worker shortages – is consistent with TAUC and CLRC’s 2018 Union Craft Labor Supply Study as well as AGC and Sage Construction’s 2019 Hiring and Business Outlook Report.

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