A survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) indicates that many construction firms plan to hire employees in 2014. Additionally, a majority of contractors surveyed plan to add construction equipment this year, and most believe demand for construction projects will grow or remain stable in every market.
The survey was conducted as part of Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook.
“Contractors are more optimistic about 2014 than they have been in a long time,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO. “While the industry has a long way to go before it returns to the employment and activity levels it experienced in the middle of the last decade, conditions are heading in the right direction.”
Although 86 percent of firms report they plan to hire 25 or fewer new employees this year, 41 percent of firms that maintained staff levels in 2013 plan to start expanding payrolls in 2014. Only 2 percent of those firms plan to make layoffs.
Seventy-three percent of firms plan to purchase new equipment in 2014, while 86 percent plan to lease. Forty-four percent of firms say they will invest $250,000 or less in equipment purchases and 53 percent say they will invest that amount or less for new equipment leases.
Contractors have a relatively positive outlook for virtually all 11 market segments covered in the Outlook, in particular for private-sector segments. For five of those segments, at least 40 percent of respondents expect the market to expand and fewer than 20 percent expect the market to decline in 2014.
Sandherr added that contractors’ market expectations are significantly more optimistic than they were at this time last year. At that time, more contractors expected demand for highway, other transportation, public building, retail, warehouse and lodging, K-12 schools and private officers to shrink than expected it to grow.
“While the outlook is significantly more optimistic than in years past, there are still areas of concern for most contractors,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Many firms will struggle to find enough skilled workers, cope with escalating materials and health care costs, and comply with expanding regulatory burdens.”
The full survey results can be found here.