Contractors are feeling bullish about business prospects in 2015, according to the results of a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.
Of the 900 construction companies surveyed by the group, 80 percent said they planned to hire in 2015. Seven percent said they expected to cut payrolls.
“Contractors are extremely optimistic about the outlook for 2015,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Indeed, if their predictions prove true, industry employment could expand this year by the most in a decade.”
In 2014, only 57 percent of construction companies surveyed said they planned to hire. Of those who plan to bring on new employees in 2015, staffing changes will be small: 90 percent of firms said they expect to grow by 25 percent or less.
Ninety percent of construction contractors in Virginia said they plan to hire this year. Of those looking to cut, Utah had the largest numbers seeking to lay off workers: 15 percent of companies in the Beehive State said they expect to make cuts.
According to the survey, private-sector construction should lead growth, with retail, warehouse and lodging expected to be especially strong.
A lot of companies also expect to invest in new equipment this year. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they plan to purchase or lease new machinery. However, such investments will be limited: two-thirds said they will spend $250,000 or less.
Lending pressures appear to be easing, as only 7 percent of firms said they have a difficult time securing bank loans and 24 percent said customers were having financial difficulties.
“Despite the overall optimism, some challenges remain for the industry,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In particular, as construction firms continue to expand, they will continue to have a difficult time finding enough skilled construction workers.”
Seventy-six percent said they are having difficulty finding qualified skilled workers and 62 percent said professional positions such as project managers, supervisors and estimators are hard to fill.