More construction firms are planning to hire workers this year than are planning to make layoffs, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America and Navigant. The survey, conducted as part of the Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook, shows the industry may finally be emerging from a severe downturn that has left millions of skilled workers unemployed.
“This won’t be an easy year for most firms, but it will be better than last year,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If current trends continue, this industry will be in a much better position 12 months from now than it is today.”
Sandherr noted that while 55 percent of firms nationwide laid off staff and only 20 percent of firms added employees in 2010, the outlook is more positive for 2011. He said that 27 percent of construction firms report they plan to add staff in 2011 while only 20 percent report plan layoffs. Even more positive, expanding firms plan to hire an average of 23 employees, while contracting firms plan to lay off an average of 16 employees.
In North Carolina, 28 percent of the construction firms plan to hire an average of 24 employees each. However 25% percent of the NC construction firms surveyed plan layoffs for this year. Those firms plan to lay off an average of 9 employees each. The survey indicated 47 percent of NC construction firms either see no change or don’t know what their hiring plans will be in 2011.
Despite the improving employment outlook, more contractors expect the construction market to shrink in 2011 than expect it to grow. Contractors are most pessimistic about the private office market, where 56 percent expect activity to decline, followed by the retail, warehouse and lodging market, where 52 percent expect less activity. Contractors are most optimistic about the hospital & higher education market, where 32 percent expect growth and the power market, where 29 percent expect growth. However, even for those markets, 36 percent of contractors expect the hospital & higher education market to shrink and 32 percent expect the power market to contract. Read More.