US contractors plan expansion

By Chris Sleight26 January 2015

A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has found 80% of its member companies plan to increase staff numbers this year. Only 7% plan to reduce headcount, with the remainder expecting to stay the same size.

"Contractors are extremely optimistic about the outlook for 2015," said AGC chief executive Stephen E. Sandherr. "Indeed, if their predictions prove true, industry employment could expand this year by the most in a decade."

Mr Sandherr noted that the number of contractors planning to add employees – 80% – in 2015, is significantly higher than in 2014, when only 57% reported they added to their headcount. However, many that plan to hire this year expect to make only modest increases, with 90% of the firms that expect to add employees saying they will expand by one-quarter or less this year.

Growing demand for private-sector construction should drive growth in 2015 according to the AGC. Contractors were said to be most optimistic about the retail/warehouse/lodging segment. Contractors were also optimistic about some public sector construction segments, especially those that aren't entirely dependent on federal funding such as water and sewer construction.

However, the AGC said this planned growth is not without its problems. The association’s chief economist Ken Simonson said, "Despite the overall optimism, some challenges remain for the industry. In particular, as construction firms continue to expand, they will continue to have a difficult time finding enough skilled construction workers."

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