Newton, Mass. — While unemployment remains stubbornly high in some sectors of the economy, firms in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry report that they are engaged in a fierce competition for job candidates. According to a new survey conducted by Morrissey Goodale LLC, 85 percent of AEC firm leaders report that they expect to struggle to hire skilled professionals in 2014.

“The survey indicates that the industry is back on its feet, but suffering from a brain drain caused by the attrition in staff levels during the economic downturn, the retirement of industry veterans, and the poaching of talented professionals by other industries,” Morrissey Goodale Executive Search Director Alissa Buckley says.

According to Buckley, the talent war in the AEC industry has resulted in a spike in “significant counteroffers” as firms fight to retain valued employees. Buckley has seen candidates who have been offered 30 percent raises immediately receive counteroffers with even larger salary bumps. She says the demand for talent has surged across specialties, but the market for technical professionals such as geotechnical engineers is extremely tight.

The survey results were published in Morrissey Goodale’s A/E Recruiting Flash, a bimonthly bulletin reporting on the hiring and retention of architecture and engineering professionals.