The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 15, 2016

Michigan contractors also see modest gains

By The Building Tradesman

The modest increases in U.S. construction hiring for 2016 applies to the Michigan market as well.

The Associated General Contractors surveyed specific states for their 2016 outlook survey, and of the Michigan construction contractors who responded, 47 percent said their workforce headcount would rise only between 1-5 workers this year. Just over one third of Michigan respondents agreed that they are currently "having a hard time filling both salaried and craft worker position." But that's offset by the 38 percent of respondents who are not doing any hiring or are "having no trouble filling any positions."

The Michigan-specific survey of contractors was quite union-heavy, with 50 percent of respondents employing exclusively a union workforce and another 18 percent going union on most of their projects. Of the responding contractors, 79 percent employed between 1 and 249 workers, and another 20 percent employed between 250 and 999.

By sector, those contractors expect to see higher construction activity in hospital work (up a net 38 percent), followed by public work (+21 percent) retail, warehouse and lodging (+19 percent), manufacturing (+15 percent) and multifamily residential (+13 percent).

Other Michigan-based survey results:

*"It will continue to be hard to find qualified construction professionals, say 34 percent, and "it will become harder to find and hire qualified construction professionals" say 41 percent. Zero percent said it would be easier to find and hire qualified construction professionals in 2016.

*To retain and recruit salaried and hourly craft professionals, 28 percent in the survey said they hiked base pay, and 22 percent said they provide incentives/bonuses. The survey found 31 percent are considering pay/benefit increases in the near future.

*The survey found that 42 percent expect to increase their investment in training and development, while 42 percent expect it to stay the same. The biggest challenge regarding the safety and health of workers: 50 percent pointed to inexperienced skilled labor/workforce shortage as a major factor.

*The biggest concerns for Michigan contractors: worker shortages (47 percent) tops the list. Followed by worker quality (43 percent), rising material costs and rising labor costs (both 37 percent).

*Another big contractor concern in Michigan is health care costs: 63 percent said they went up in 2015, and another 77 percent said they expect an increase in 2016. Only 13 percent expect costs to remain the same this year.