AGC: Construction firms add 44,000 jobs in October

By |  November 5, 2021


The construction industry added 44,000 jobs in October as nonresidential construction firms posted back-to-back increases for the first time since January, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of federal data.

AGC officials say the employment gains were welcome news, but they caution that employment levels remain well below pre-pandemic totals as struggles continue with the supply chain and labor shortages. A delayed vote on the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act is also having an impact.

“It remains encouraging to see continuing job growth in nonresidential construction but the industry remains far behind the overall economy in recovering all of the job losses from the pandemic,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Finding workers is a challenge after other sectors have [been] hiring for much longer.”

The numbers

Construction employment in October totaled nearly 7.5 million, an increase of 44,000 since September. However, industry employment remained 150,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020.

The nonresidential segment, made up of nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors, as well as heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 33,000 employees in October. This followed a growth of 25,800 in September.

Nonresidential employment is 239,000 below the February 2020 level, AGC says, as the sector has recovered only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.

Residential construction – building contractors and residential specialty trades – added 10,900 employees in October. The sector is 89,000 jobs above the February 2020 mark.

Simonson notes that the overall economy regained 87 percent of the jobs lost between February and April 2020 – an indication that many construction workers may have found jobs in homebuilding and remodeling or other sectors.

Association officials urge members of the House of Representatives to quickly pass the infrastructure bill. They note that new investments would help boost employment levels and improve overburdened distribution networks that contribute to the supply chain problem.

They also warn that new federal COVID vaccine mandates were likely to make it harder for firms that employ 100 or more people to retain and find new workers as those who are hesitant to the vaccine shift to smaller firms.

“House members should heed the lessons from this Tuesday’s elections and focus on passing bipartisan measures that will do much to boost our economy and improve supply chains,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “At the same time, we need to appreciate that having conflicting vaccine mandates for different types of firms is likely going to encourage the vaccine hesitant to work at places where the rules do not apply.”

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About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor of Pit & Quarry and Editor-in-Chief of Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or

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