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New Industry Index ends '17 on high note

Dec. 13, 2017
National survey of GCs, subs finds continued confidence in market health this fall, tempered by concerns over growing skilled labor shortages.

The following is from the 4Q report for the Commercial Construction Index, a new industry measure launched earlier this year by building products giant USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Released Dec. 11, it is based on information gathered this fall by Dodge Data & Analytics, which interviewed some 200 U.S. contractors and subcontractors.

We are pleased to share the results of the USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index for the fourth quarter of 2017. Contractors are ending the year on a high note, with continued demand for construction, steady margins and belief that there will be growth over the next 12 months. 

One year into launching this Index, we’ve gained important insights into the health and outlook of the commercial construction industry, its challenges and opportunities, as well as its impact on our nation’s economy. The results have shown steady optimism from contractors about revenue forecasts and their backlog of work, yet concerns about the availability, training and cost of skilled workers have remained high throughout all four quarters of the year. 

For example, last quarter we found that over 90 percent of contractors are concerned about workforce readiness. Contractors need employees with safety, technical and communications skills. However, only 11 percent have a formal skills development program and just 23 percent require employee training on a regular basis. 

This quarter, we asked contractors about one of their major concerns: jobsite efficiency. Not surprisingly, labor productivity was the most often cited area of opportunity. In our view, their responses indicate a clear and urgent need for industry leaders to address this issue through workforce development programs and industry innovations, such as improved building processes and materials. 

More than three million people are employed in the commercial construction industry and the sector contributes more than $700 billion in construction spending to the U.S. economy. The commercial construction industry strengthens the U.S. economy by building businesses, promoting job creation and boosting wages that improve the standard of living for many Americans. 

When the construction industry is healthy, our country grows and creates real employment opportunities. We hope this Index continues to shine a light on the things we can all do to ensure prosperity in the commercial construction industry and foster broad economic growth.

Jennifer F. Scanlon, President & CEO, USG Corp.

Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, US Chamber of Commerce

To read the full 24-page report, click here.