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NC construction companies struggle to find workers

Construction continued in July on the Carolina Theatre in uptown Charlotte.
David Boraks
Construction continued in July on the Carolina Theatre in uptown Charlotte.

Construction companies are having a hard time finding workers in North Carolina, and the worker shortage is causing delays for some projects.

That's according to an annual surveyreleased in August by The Associated General Contractors of America. The group surveyed 30 contractors in North Carolina. Of those, 96% said they had openings for hourly workers, and 100% said they were having a hard time finding people to fill them.

That was in line with a national trend outlined in the survey, which gathered information from 1,266 firms from around the U.S. The survey found 93% of those firms had open positions and 91% of them were struggling to find workers to take those jobs.

In a news conference, the group's chief economist, Ken Simonson, said the shortages were affecting nearly all sizes and types of construction firms.

"All types of firms are experiencing similar challenges," he said. "Nearly identical results were reported by contractors that use exclusively union labor as well as ones that are strictly open shop, by firms with under $50 million of revenue and firms with $50 million or more of revenue."

Simonson said the shortage was especially pronounced among the craft workforce that perform the bulk of onsite construction work.

The shortage was largely driven by a lack of candidates with sufficient experience and the ability to pass a drug test, Simonson said.

Three-quarters of contractors surveyed nationwide said they have had to delay projects because of the worker shortage. The survey also found 90% of firms have increased base pay, and 37% have improved benefits.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal