Industry Data and Statistics (Archived)

RT-004 Topic Summary
RT 004


There is a need for statistical information in the construction industry especially for companies that have little or no local expertise when running a project. When RT-4 was written, there was a severe lack of available information on a number of topics and gathering data was cumbersome and challenging. One the main issues was the lack of an established and supported set of definitions, standards and scope of all data terms and databases.  

RT-4 authored two research publications:

  1. Findings and recommendations of a survey done with CII members (SD-7) 
  2. A labor supply pilot study done in Ohio (SD-48)

RT-4 details its survey of 49 persons within 12 member companies, which represented a cross-section of the CII membership. The survey found that many types of data are desired, with the highest priority placed upon knowledge of labor costs, labor supply, and productivity.               

The recommendation of RT-4 was to create and establish a database for this data for the benefit of the members and industry. The database was to assist members in identifying costs, conditions, and construction industry environment in major construction markets in the United States. As well as develop a Construction Cost Indexes/Projections database to aid in the planning of capital project construction.

The pilot study took the recommendations and used them in a state that matched ideal requirements. The purpose of the study was to develop a database, provide instruction on how to use it, present the data to participants, evaluate the feasibility, and recommend actions. There were seven categories of information reviewed in the study:

  • Labor force inventory
  • Projections 
  • Demographics 
  • Employment/labor market data 
  • Training program inventory
  • Market activity
  • Computer patterns

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : High Degree of Risk

To the extent that information can be used to reduce the level of risk and uncertainty, it is valuable to companies. The greatest data needs tend to arise when a company is preparing for an upcoming project for which it has few past experiences, either by type of project or geographic area. (SD-7, p. 1)
Reference: (SD-7)

2 : Construction Information Needs

Company information needs are the greatest at the front end of a project when local area information is collected and analyzed for the purpose of assisting in the preparation of a project estimate or bid. (SD-7, p. 6)
Reference: (SD-7)

3 : Data Confidentiality Concerns

Recurring themes that were expressed and which are behind the findings and recommendations include some remaining apprehension, especially among contractors, in providing data to CII because of concerns about confidentiality. However, there was a general agreement to the need for data topics areas including: (SD-7, p. 7)

  • Craft labor rates
  • Labor availability
  • Cost indexes
  • Productivity
  • Non-traditional work schedules
  • Database of contractor experience
  • Measurement of contract changes
Reference: (SD-7)

4 : Short-Term Needs

Short-term emphasis would be on placing existing data bases on the system and improving the quality and quantity of non-union wage information. A concurrent longer-range effort would be made to develop short and long-term labor availability data. (SD-7, p. 17)
Reference: (SD-7)

5 : Develop Construction Cost Indexes

Separate indexes will be constructed to measure changes in material, labor, and design/engineering costs. There will also be individual indexes for the various component parts of a project, similar to the cost segments identified by CICE. The system will be the framework for CII member companies to forecast future price movement. (SD-7, p. 19)
Reference: (SD-7)

6 : CII Survey Confirms CICE Findings

The finding of the Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project of the Business Roundtable was that there is a lack of credible information available to define and monitor the construction industry has been confirmed and reinforced by the Data Task Force’s survey of CII member companies’ data needs. Member companies are most concerned by the lack of information available to assist them in planning and estimating upcoming projects. Therefore, it has been concluded that: (SD-7, p. 27)

  • There is a demand for any data which can reduce risk and uncertainty before beginning a project
  • There is widespread support for CII to meet this demand for data

Highest priority in developing databases should be given to these three types of information most requested and needed by member companies.

  • Local craft wage rates, especially non-union
  • Local craft labor availability, especially short-term
  • Cost indexes for large projects of all types
Reference: (SD-7)

7 : Labor Supply

Of all the data examined, three types were found to be most useful in quantifying the industry’s local labor supply situation: labor force inventory, projections, and demographics. For each of these, information exists that is useful and can be improved in content and format. All is generated by government statistical agencies. (SD-48, p. 10)
Reference: (SD-48)

8 : Labor Force Inventory

Federal funds permit a survey sample which results in statewide data outputs. In order to provide sub-state data, the state must allocate additional funds to enlarge its sample size. Ohio is one of the few states doing this. This is not a problem in small states or those in which one metropolitan area accounts for a dominant portion of industry employment. In those states with a number of metropolitan areas that are independent labor markets, it can be a significant data deficiency. (SD-48, p. 23)
Reference: (SD-48)

9 : Projections

The worker inventory is important on its own, but it is also the benchmark for estimating future needs. In Ohio, the data confirm the overwhelming dominance of replacement as the primary reason for needing to attract new entrants. The replacement estimates use conservative assumptions that exclude shifts to other industries. They, therefore, understate the replacement needs. (SD-48, p. 24)
Reference: (SD-48)

10 : Demographics

Emphasis is placed upon demographic data because the importance of replacement demand in identifying future needs. These data are also more objective than growth projections, which, in the past, have often not identified even long-term employment changes. The main sources of demographic data are the 1980 Census and updated state projections. (SD-48, p. 24)
Reference: (SD-48)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost (improved data interchange), Improved materials management, Improved craft productivity (improved labor supply), Improved performance

Research Publications

Database Development, Labor Supply Information Pilot Study - SD-48

Publication Date: 07/1989 Type: Source Document Pages: 53 Status: Archived Reference

Findings and Recommendations of a Survey of CII Member Company Data Needs - SD-7

Publication Date: 05/1986 Type: Source Document Pages: 28 Status: Archived Reference