AGC: Nonresidential construction sees first jobs gain since March

By |  October 12, 2021


The construction industry gained 22,000 jobs between August and September as nonresidential construction firms added employees for the first time in six months, according to an analysis of government data the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) conducted.

AGC officials say nonresidential construction has been affected by supply chain problems, causing project delays or cancellations.

“While it’s refreshing to see job gains in both residential and nonresidential construction, nonresidential building and infrastructure employment remains far below its pre-pandemic peak,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “It will take more than a few months of gains to match the overall economy.”

Total construction employment in September neared 7.5 million jobs, an increase of 22,000 jobs from the month prior. That number is still 201,000 below the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020.

The nonresidential segment, comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors – plus heavy and civil engineering construction firms – added 18,600 jobs in September. This mark is sill 281,000 jobs below the February 2020 level. The sector has recovered only 56 percent of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic, AGC says.

Residential construction, which includes building contractors such as homebuilders along with residential specialty trades, added 3,600 employees in September. The sector is above February 2020 marks by 80,000 jobs.

Simonson cites continued supply chain issues, extreme price increases and long lead times for a variety of construction materials as threats to further growth of nonresidential construction. He says he has heard about an increasing number of project owners deciding to postpone projects because of these factors.

AGC officials urge the Biden administration to remove tariffs and import quotas on a range of key construction materials to help address supply chain disruptions. They add that Congress can help offset declining nonresidential demand for construction by passing the infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in August.

“Both parties in the House should make passing the infrastructure bill a top priority because it is the best way to create new construction careers and make our economy more efficient,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “If the president acts to address supply chain problems and Congress passes the infrastructure bill, construction employment is likely to surge.”

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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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