AGC: Construction employment down in 42 states from February to September 2020

By |  October 26, 2020


Construction employment was lower in September than it was in February in 42 states, largely due to pandemic-induced job losses throughout the industry, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

California lost the most construction jobs (54,900 jobs, 6.1 percent) from February to September, followed by Texas (51,800 jobs, 6.5 percent). Vermont had the largest percentage loss (24.5 percent, 3,600 jobs), followed by Iowa (14.6 percent, 11,400 jobs).

Meanwhile, only eight states and the District of Columbia have recouped construction jobs losses that occurred during the spring, AGC says.

Of those eight states, Virginia added the most jobs (4,300 jobs, 2.1 percent) between February and September, followed by Utah (3,800 jobs, 3.3 percent). South Dakota saw the largest percentage gain (9.4 percent, 2,300 jobs), followed by Utah.

“New spikes in coronavirus cases, along with ongoing pandemic-related costs and revenue losses, are causing even more private owners, developers and public agencies to delay and cancel projects,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC. “Although single-family homebuilding is gathering steam, multifamily and nonresidential construction activity has stalled, leaving large numbers of workers at risk of losing their jobs as current projects finish up with nothing on the horizon.”

More recently, construction employment from August to September decreased in 17 states, increased in 32 states and was flat for Arkansas and Washington, D.C.

Of the 17 states where construction employment decreased from August to September, Illinois lost the most jobs (3,000 jobs, 1.4 percent), followed by Oregon (2,600 jobs, 2.4 percent) and Iowa (2,500 jobs, 3.6 percent). Iowa saw the largest percentage decrease, followed by Oregon and New Mexico (2 percent, 1,000 jobs).

New York added the most construction jobs (5,300 jobs, 1.5 percent) from August to September, followed by Louisiana (5,000 jobs, 4.1 percent) and Washington (4,200 jobs, 2 percent). Vermont posted the largest percentage gain (500 jobs, 4.7 percent) over the month, followed by Louisiana and New Hampshire (800 jobs, 3 percent).

AGC officials say construction job losses will become even more prevalent unless lawmakers renew and expand the loan program that enabled firms to temporarily retain and hire workers.

“The loans that were issued last spring saved tens of thousands of construction workers from unemployment but those funds are rapidly running out,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC. “Renewal of the loan program should be a top priority for any policy maker who cares about keeping the economy from backsliding.”

Feature image: P&Q Staff

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