Associated Builders and Contractors President Josh Reap Shares Industry’s Agenda for an Economically Strong 2020
The Associated Builders and Contractors New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter (ABC) sees 2020 as another great year for the construction industry. A robust domestic economy, combined with low regional unemployment, provides for a bright future for builders as well as jobseekers.
“We are lucky to be experiencing the lengthiest economic expansion in U.S. history, which has helped propel this industry to record levels of backlog,” said Josh Reap, president of ABC. “Right now construction backlog averages nine months.” Reap explained that backlog is the amount of work already under contract but not yet performed by contractors.
“We see a strong economic forecast for 2020,” said Reap. “Hardhats are busy working all over both states and will continue to do so for a while. We enter the new year with a lot of momentum as contractors continue to meet the demands for more housing, industrial capacity and infrastructure in New Hampshire and Vermont. Builders tell us finding workers remains their number one struggle.”
Reap explained that the low unemployment, aging workforce and lengthy backlog of work combine to create a unique condition.
“The average age of a construction worker in our region is over 50 years old. For over a generation, we could have done a better job communicating to students and adult decision makers about the opportunities that exist in construction. As a result, we do not have enough people coming into the trades, older workers are retiring at record rates and we are at crisis conditions for staffing. As an association, we’re working to address this disconnect now and for the long-term.”
With the low unemployment rate and rapidly retiring workforce, Reap noted the conditions create opportunity for higher wages and benefits, as well as paid training, for anyone willing to enter the construction trades.
“Our priority for 2020 is to have conversations with educators, parents and legislators about the career pathways found in construction. Wages are good and today’s construction job involves more teamwork skills and technology than ever before. We plan to work with all stakeholders to share the great news about opportunities for earning and living in our communities.”
Reap also noted that ABC believes New Hampshire leaders must work to more quickly address the affordable housing and reduce red tape on new development process in the Granite State.
“Optimism is high and there is certainty in that the economy will continue performing for the foreseeable future, but it will not last forever. The pressure is on for more affordable housing for current and new Granite Staters. Part of that conversation has to involve a better new development process that rewards smart growth plans and stops the endless red tape that exists today. We welcome that conversation with the governor and legislative leaders.”