Craft Labor Studies

Many U.S. markets are already experiencing severe shortages in construction labor. For others, it is a serious issue that is right around the corner. Skilled workers have left the industry at a staggering rate.The most recent economic downturn may provide a brief respite from the longer trend; however, renewed economic growth, particularly in complex, nonresidential work, labor shortages will threaten to drive up costs and delay project completions.

What Is a Craft Labor Study?

Craft Labor Studies evaluate the balance between market demand and the available labor supply.

Market Demand

This relates to construction put in place, historical and projected. Dollar values are translated to the level of skilled craft labor required to do the work. This translation is dependent on several variables including the growth/decline of individual market segments and the characteristics of the structures within those market segments. For example, high growth in the heavy/highway segment will create a different demand for skilled crafts than if the growth is in retail. Further, the demand within a segment will be impacted by the projected mix of building types. For example, high-rise construction requires a different labor mix than tilt-up.

Market Supply

This relates to the availability of skilled craft labor (both organized and open-shop labor) within specific time frames. This side of the equation should also assess the impact of "travelers" that may enter the market from other areas. Skilled craft workers may commute from adjoining markets or may be imported both in the unionized and open-shop environments.

Craft Labor Studies can be used in several ways, including:

  • To provide an early warning to contractors of projected skilled craft shortages
  • To provide an early warning for owners of potential project delays and cost increases
  • To identify and quantify the need for work-force development initiatives
  • To develop an assessment of market share in the unionized or open-shop environment
  • To support owners in demonstrating local jobs created by a specific project

"Every segment of the industry in Central Indiana has united behind the results of this study and is for the first time taking a proactive approach to the issue of work-force development. In addition, local and state government has responded to the results and is actively engaged in discussions that will help the industry for many years to come."
-- Mr. Gary Price, Executive Director, ICR



Craft Labor Studies

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