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Nearly one-third of N.Y. construction firms planning to add employees in 2021

By Eric Reinhardt


Findings are from a Bonadio Group survey                 

Nearly one-third of New York construction companies and contractors are “planning on increasing their workforce” in 2021, according to a new survey.

At the same time, 43 percent of responding firms said they had to reduce their workforce in 2020 due to COVID-19 challenges, but only nine percent plan further reductions in 2021. 

The findings are part of the Bonadio Group’s 2021 survey of New York construction companies and contractors. The Rochester–based accounting firm’s biennial survey includes results from 75 respondents at construction companies and contractors representing three size categories: small, under $10 million in revenue (30 percent of respondents); medium, $10 to $50 million in revenue (53 percent of respondents); and large, more than $50 million in revenue (17 percent of respondents). 

“As with nearly every industry, construction was not immune to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost without warning, companies became burdened with business disruptions and shutdowns, which left a great deal of uncertainty around the future,” Michael Smith, partner and construction team leader at the Bonadio Group, which has a Syracuse office. “That said, as more projects get back underway, it’s encouraging to see that most firms are planning to maintain or increase their employee count, give raises and bonuses, and offer health care and retirement plans in 2021. As we have before and during this crisis, The Bonadio Group is ready to guide construction business through whatever stage they are in and provide the resources and tools to help them grow.”

Findings on payroll 

The Bonadio survey also found that 93 percent of responding construction companies and contractors received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which allowed 87 percent of those firms to either reduce or prevent layoffs.

At 50 percent, small firms are most likely to be planning to add employees in 2021 compared to 30 percent of mid-sized firms. 

In addition, 75 percent of respondents said that 2021 raises will be between 1 percent and 3 percent, while 14 percent indicated they expect raises to be less than 1 percent or none at all.

The survey also found that 68 percent of all companies that responded provided raises of between 1 percent and 3 percent during 2020, while 14 percent of firms provided a raise of less than 1 percent or no raise at all. 

The findings also indicate that 73 percent of responding firms provided a holiday bonus to employees.

Findings on health-care costs 

The Bonadio survey found 77 percent of construction companies and contractors reported an increase in health-care insurance premiums from the previous year. 

As costs continue to rise, companies look at ways to reduce health-care costs. Measures they are taking included implementing new health-care providers and high deductible plans with a health-savings account and moving to experience-rated health plans, the Bonadio Group said. 

Findings on other benefits 

Of the survey respondents, 93 percent offer a 401(k) plan or similar retirement plan and “substantially all” offer a matching or profit-sharing contribution option. 

The survey also found that 62 percent of respondents provide mileage reimbursements for employees traveling to job sites, while 60 percent also allow or provide a company-owned or leased vehicle for certain employees.

The findings also indicate 77 percent of responding construction companies reimburse their employees for extended out-of-town expenses, and of these companies, 60 percent reimburse actual expenses while 40 percent provide a per diem/flat rate.

Responding firms also offer an average of seven paid holidays during the year, which is “on par” with the previous 2019 survey, the Bonadio Group said.            

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