The construction industry is booming but as Ohio companies look to hire more workers, they’re having trouble finding them.
In Ohio, 88 percent of construction companies are looking to hire more workers in 2019, a full 11 percent more firms than the national average, according to a survey of more than 1,300 companies in 49 states from The Associated General Contractors of America.
“All of our trades I think across the board we’re looking to hire,” said John Hayes, executive director of the Dayton Building and Construction Trades Council. “We’ve been hiring quite a bit…That’s always good news.”
But, the same percent of construction companies — 88 percent — reported they are currently having trouble filling both salaried and hourly positions. A total of 76 percent of firms told the association they thought it would remain difficult or get even harder to fill positions in 2019.
Some Ohio construction companies reported that a worker shortage has had a negative impact on the projects they’ve been hired to do. Around 30 percent surveyed said its caused their costs to be higher than anticipated or resulted in projects taking longer to be completed.
“As growing demand and labor shortages force contractors to do more with less, many firms are increasing their investments in labor-saving technologies and techniques like building information modeling, lean construction and robotics,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist said.
There were 225,300 construction workers employed in Ohio at the end of November, around 22,000 more than there were 10 years ago, according to the state Department of Job and Family Services.
The recent construction boom has been compounded by a builder shortage that started during the recession when builders left the remodeling industry to find other work, Matt Jones, production supervisor at Greater Dayton Building and Remodeling and chairman of the board of the Miami Valley chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry said last year.
The council Hayes leads is a union representing 5,000 members in 11 counties in the Dayton area. The union and area companies are trying to fill jobs through apprenticeship programs, Hayes said, but they often take four to five years to complete which can in turn cause a lag.
Overall the demand for more construction workers and the difficulty companies face in filling jobs is a reflection of the industry right now, said Hayes, who spent 40 years in the commercial roofing business.
There have been a lot of new buildings going up in the last few years, Hayes said. Locally, there is a set of apartments being built next to Fifth Third Field in downtown Dayton and CareSource is building a new office tower on East First Street that is slated to open later this year.
Hospitals are one of the largest drivers of construction in the region. There are more than $200 million worth of construction projects underway between Kettering Health Network, Premier Health and Dayton Children’s Hospital. That includes a $70 million addition at Kettering Health’s Soin Medical Center, a $28 million community medical center by Dayton Children’s, and two $9 million medical hubs by Premier in Beavercreek and Vandalia.
Hayes also credited the construction boom to a spike in remodeling and renovation jobs. Americans were on track in 2018 to spend a record $316 billion on remodeling which has often caused delays as builders try to keep up with demand, according to a report from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing studies.
“I won’t say that it surprises me,” Hayes said. “It’s kind of normal when the construction industry takes off.”
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