More construction firms are planning to hire workers this year than are planning to make layoffs, according to an industry-wide survey released this week by the Associated General Contractors of America.
“This won’t be an easy year for most firms, but it will be better than last year,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO.
Sandherr said that while 55 percent of firms laid off staff and only 20 percent of firms added employees in 2010, the outlook is more positive for 2011. Twenty-seven percent of construction companies plan to add staff and only 20 percent plan to lay workers off this year. Expanding companies plan to hire an average of 23 workers, while contracting firms plan to lay off an average of 16, the survey indicated.
Despite the improving employment outlook, more contractors expect the construction market to shrink in 2011 than expect it to grow, being most pessimistic about the office market which 56 percent expect to decline, followed by the retail, warehouse and housing markets, where 52 percent expect less activity. Contractors are more optimistic about the hospital and higher education markets with a 32-percent growth expectation, and the power market with a 29-percent growth expectation.
Contractors’ low expectations are driven by the expectation that stimulus-funded construction activity will decline in 2011. Thirty percent of firms expect to perform stimulus-funded work this year, compared with 45 percent that report performing stimulus-funded work in 2009 or 2010.