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The Impact of COVID-19 on Construction Workers

September 8, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck
(Photo courtesy National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

The results of a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk underscore how the coronavirus pandemic has created constraints on the demand for work even as it limits the number of workers available to hire.

AGC and Autodesk conducted the workforce survey in late July and early August of 2021 by surveying over 2,100 firms from the construction industry, including union and open shop firms of all sizes. 

The study findings show that nearly 88% of contractor firms are experiencing pandemic-induced project delays, with 61% of firms saying projects are delayed because of workforce shortages. 

The two main reasons firms are having a tough time hiring workers are that many candidates are not qualified to work in the industry, or they failed to pass a drug test.

The report also indicates that 73% of firms increased their base pay rates during the last year, and many are considering bonuses and other incentives, but still 58% of respondents said that unemployment insurance is keeping workers away.

The shortage of construction workers has led to firms increasing spending on training and professional development, and starting career building programs at high schools, colleges, or technical schools.

To try to improve training programs for construction workers and retain newly hired workers, a campaign is being launched by AGC called “Construction is Essential.” 

AGC is also urging the Biden administration and Congress to work together to boost investments in career and technical education.

“The federal government currently spends only one dollar on career training for every six it puts into college prep, despite the fact only one-in-three jobs requires a college degree,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer in a statement.

“Boosting federal investments in career and technical education will help attract and prepare more people into high-paying careers in construction.”

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