Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy R. B. Taylor


A shortage of skilled craft labor in the North American construction industry has been an unfortunate cyclic trend since the late 1980s. This shortage has been reported and discussed frequently by numerous past studies in the context of construction industry. The 2008 U.S. recession was at least one period when the craft shortage temporarily improved, as witnessed by spikes in construction unemployment rates above 20% due to the work slowdowns. However, the current economic recovery period is once again experiencing craft shortages in some sectors of the U.S. construction industry. Although the past literature provides wealth of information about influence of craft labor shortage on construction project, less attention has been given to quantifying the impact of craft labor availability on construction project performance. The primary contribution of this study to the body of knowledge is to fill the gap in existing literature by quantitatively modelling and elucidating the influence of craft labor availability on construction project performance as measured by safety, schedule, productivity and cost. Data from 97 construction projects completed in the U.S. and Canada between 2001 and 2014 were collected from two data sources. A number of t-tests and regression analyses were conducted in both databases to examine the significance of the influence of craft labor shortage on construction project performance. The primary analysis shows that projects that experienced craft shortages underwent significant higher growth in cost overrun, time overrun, safety incident and also lower productivity compared to projects that did not. Further analysis on two databases returned the following models: 1) a Poisson regression model that demonstrates a positive exponential relationship between increased craft worker recruiting difficulty and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Total Number of Recordable Incident Cases per 200,000 Actual Direct Work Hours (TRIR) on construction projects. 2) a statistically significant correlation between increased craft recruiting difficulty and lower project productivity and higher schedule overruns 3) a multiple regression models that demonstrate a relationship between increased construction cost overrun with two variables of increased actual cost and increased craft staffing difficulty. These models are intended to be used by project management team to perceive the risk that skilled craft labor variability poses on project safety, productivity, time, and cost performance. In addition, understanding the level of impact that craft shortages are having through robust statistical analyses is a first step in developing the motivation for industry leaders, communities, and construction stakeholders to address this challenge.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)