- In its "2019 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Report," the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate found that almost 80% of the more than 1,300 contractors they surveyed plan to add workers to their payrolls this year — one of the positives highlighted in the annual study — despite worries about the pool of available and qualified workers.
- Based on survey results, contractors expect the value of projects on which they bid to increase between 23% and 32%, and more contractors expect demand for all 13 categories of projects in the survey to expand than expect it to decrease. The majority of respondents expect dollar value to remain the same. More than 60% of contractors expect to increase their investments in training and development in 2019, and 42% plan on increasing the amount they spend on IT. Three-quarters of contractors are comfortable with moving their data to the cloud, and many plan to use mobile software technology for tasks like daily field reports (44%); accessing information from the field (40%); employee time tracking (40%); and document sharing (38%).
- Participating contractors also expressed optimism about demand for their services in 2019, but AGC officials noted that the responses were gathered prior to the current federal government shutdown, just as President Donald Trump said he was backing off some tariffs on Chinese goods. The association called on lawmakers to come through with regulatory reforms and infrastructure funding that will help to keep contractors in the black. “Our goal is to ensure that the construction industry expands in 2019 amid growing demand for new projects and an infusion of new and qualified workers,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “If that happens, the entire economy will benefit.”
One of the issues federal lawmakers are fighting over is U.S.-Mexico border wall funding, a sticking point that led to a partial federal shutdown that is still underway after two weeks. The Trump administration wants $5 billion for the wall, but Democrats, who now hold a majority in the House, have rejected that request. On Thursday, the House passed a stopgap spending bill that would reopen government offices, but it is expected to die in the Senate as the president has vowed to veto any bill that doesn’t include the money he wants for the wall.
Despite the struggle in Washington, border wall construction is underway, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has been awarding construction contracts for portions of the barrier in Texas and Arizona. In November, the agency awarded contractors $630 million of border wall work.