There isn’t one Ohioan whose life hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19. Every single individual working in every type of industry has seen a major change in their reality in 2020, including the Ohio construction industry.
The Associated General Contractors of America Association (AGC) recently polled members of the construction industry about the impact that the pandemic has had on their firms. Their findings tell an interesting story about the country as a whole as well as each region and individual state. AGC, in partnership with Autodesk Construction Cloud, polled 40 Ohio construction industry professionals. Today, we’ll break down some of those findings, some of which might surprise you.
You probably assume that Ohio construction projects have seen major changes since pre-pandemic times, many of which have been anything but positive. Of those 40 individuals polled, 62% reported that scheduled projects have been halted, postponed, or canceled, with another 38% reporting that projects already underway were halted at their firms. And, in the off chance when these firms continued to move these projects forward as planned, they are taking longer than anticipated (49%).
Given the year that 2020 has been, many report that their confidence in future project demand has decreased. Less than a quarter of Ohio firms have seen their business volume return to last year’s level, even fewer than those polled this past June. And, they don’t foresee it returning in the near future. More than half of Ohio firms don’t expect their businesses to be running “business as usual” for more than six months, if ever.
The above data is, most likely, not surprising to you. But you might be surprised by something else the data uncovered. Yes, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic slowed progress in the construction industry, but it still has left a lot of unfilled job opportunities.
Of those 40 individuals surveyed, more than half reported that all hourly craft positions have been difficult to fill, with carpenter positions being the most in-demand (31%), followed closely by laborers (29%), and equipment operators (24%).
These vacancies aren’t due to furloughs or firings. In fact, the majority of those polled, 67%, reported that they did not furlough any employees whatsoever. And, it doesn’t have to do with a decrease in benefits either. In fact, 38% of firms reported they have increased base pay rates this year, while 20% said they provided incentives or bonuses to employees. Instead, these vacancies stem from continued fear of catching COVID-19 while on the job and losing lucrative unemployment supplement pay as well as in-home childcare while children are learning remotely.
Given these facts, it’s clear that this is the perfect time for those that are new to construction to take the first step toward a career in construction. Entry-level, hourly craft positions are in high-demand, meaning it is now, interestingly enough, the most opportune time to join the workforce. This is the real pandemic paradox.
It’s important to note that not all firms have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The data also shows that more than one-fourth of those Ohio firms polled reported that they have added new members to their team over the past year. The pandemic has pushed the industry to continue to grow while pivoting to a more digitally-driven industry with increased mobile training options, online learning programs, and augmented/mixed/virtual reality training devices.
Click here for more information from the survey, which includes national, regional, and other state’s reports.