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WASHINGTON, Dec. 4— In its survey of Florida construction firms for the third quarter of 2017, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) finds the confidence to fill open positions over the next six months remains low. Continued hurricane rebuilding efforts will likely exacerbate the challenge to find enough skilled labor in Florida to meet the level of project demand. Confidence in other areas of the survey remains high.

ABC conducts a quarterly construction confidence survey in Florida to supply stakeholders with information regarding contractor perceptions in four areas: 

  • Staffing Levels:  Do contractors expect to increase hiring?
  • Worker Availability:  Will filling open positions become more challenging?
  • Workforce Investment:  Will investment in training expand?
  • Sales:  Will revenues rise or fall over the next six months?  
The survey supports computations of the Florida Construction Confidence Index (CCI), a diffusion index. Readings above 50 indicate growth or improvement, while readings below 50 are unfavorable. Because response rates are high, ABC is able to provide results for a number of Florida sub-markets.

Florida remains among the nation’s most active construction markets, ranking fifth among all states in terms of net new construction job creation. While CCI in the staffing levels category fell from 76.8 in the second quarter to 74 in the third, the reading continues to indicate that contractors will continue increasing staffing levels over the next six months. A minuscule 2 percent of respondents indicate an expectation that their staffing levels will decline over the near term. 

The same can be said regarding sales expectations. While confidence has waned slightly from the second quarter, contractors remain upbeat from the perspective of anticipated revenue expansion. 

By contrast, worker availability remains a source of pessimism among contractors, with more than 68 percent of respondents indicating that filling positions will become more difficult over the next six months.  This is remarkable given how difficult it has already been to secure skilled craftspeople.  Only 2 percent of respondents indicate that finding workers will become easier over the coming six months.  Given the onset of rebuilding after summer storms, skilled labor shortages are likely to become even more dramatic in late 2017 and into early 2018.