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Report: Labor demand up for contractors

For the second quarter in a row, contractors in the Heartland North Carolina region, which includes Mecklenburg County, predicted much stronger demand for labor in 2011 than 2010, according to the third-quarter Carolinas Associated General Contractors Construction Barometer released today.

“While the uptick isn’t the strong surge we once knew, the intensity of the increase in planned hiring is notable given the present economy,” the report says. “[This is] the first back-to-back increase in projected hiring we’ve seen in commercial construction in at least two years.”  In the third quarter of 2010, July 1 through Sept. 30, the overall index increased 1 percent, suggesting a slightly more favorable business climate for contractors. The uptick was driven by more demand for skilled labor, a small increase in the number of anticipated new positions and moderately higher labor costs.

In the Heartland, the results were in line with the overall number, with contractor optimism increasing 1 percent, compared to the Western region’s 5 percent and the Eastern region’s 0.2 percent.

Although contractors in the Heartland region reported “a short burst” of inflation in the price of petroleum and metallic commodities, they projected that the price of construction materials will fall during 2011.

Across the Carolinas, the barometer predicted fewer government utility and highway projects in 2011 as stimulus funding runs out, but predicts that the decrease will be sharper in South Carolina than North Carolina.

The Construction Barometer, designed by Dr. Tony Plath of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is released every quarter for the Carolinas’ commercial construction industry and is based on 24,800 pieces of data pertaining to employment and labor trends, business and economic trends and financing availability. The information comes from economic and regional business statistics as well as subjective input from a panel of 100 industry experts in North and South Carolina.

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