Report predicts union construction growth in 2019 despite need for more journeymen

A new study conducted by the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC) and sponsored by The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) found the industry is growing, despite worker shortages in certain crafts.

According to the 2019 Union Craft Labor Supply Study, the only national, multi-craft, union-specific study to focus on construction and maintenance, nearly three-quarters of participants are projecting growth this year in the construction and maintenance industry, and roughly 25 percent of those companies indicated 2019 will be a year of “strong growth.”

Among the sectors where strong growth is expected to take place include commercial/institutional, civil, manufacturing and oil/natural gas/chemical. The utility sector forecasted weak growth.

About 69 percent of respondents reported a worker shortage. The majority though, 54 percent, defined the shortage as small (meaning a labor shortage of 12.5 percent), while 15 percent identified having worker shortages (defined as a shortage of 24.3 percent, on average). Nearly a third of companies (31 percent) claimed a surplus or the right number of tradesmen and tradeswomen in their organization.

The utility industry had the largest labor shortage in 2018, as 83 percent reported some type of shortage. This was a substantial jump from last year, where 54 percent of utilities reported a shortage. About a quarter (27 percent) said their utility company experienced a large shortage of union labor in 2018.

The report also analyzed craft specific data for three key factors: 2018 actual, 2019 projected and
2018 apprentices.

2018 actual data indicated Boilermakers, Carpenters and Millwrights, Heat and Frost Insulators and Iron Workers were the building trades with the most substantial shortages.

The 2019 projected data shows the concerns regarding manpower shortages for the 2018 actual crafts remained, while the Painters and allied trades were added to the greater shortage list in 2019.

Regarding 2018 apprentices, contractors indicated the most significant shortages were found among Heat and Frost insulators, Iron Workers and Painters and allied trades.

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