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AGC provides update on construction employment

By |  November 20, 2020


Construction employment in October remained depressed compared to pre-pandemic levels in three-fourths of states despite the fact that 36 states and the District of Columbia added new construction jobs in October, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reports.

AGC shared as much based on an analysis the association did of government employment data.

According to AGC officials, demand for most types of nonresidential projects remains weak amid pandemic-related uncertainty. They urge federal officials to enact a new round of coronavirus recovery measures.

“An increasing number of nonresidential contractors are experiencing cancellations that are forcing them to lay off workers,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Although single-family homebuilding and remodeling contractors are adding workers, most states are likely to have a net loss of construction workers soon, especially from high-paying nonresidential jobs.”

Digging deeper

Seasonally adjusted construction employment in October was lower than in February, AGC says. February was the month before the pandemic forced a number of contractors to suspend work in 37 states, Simonson notes.

New York lost the most construction jobs over that span (41,600 jobs, down 10.1 percent), closely followed by Texas (41,500 jobs, down 5.2 percent). Vermont had the largest percentage loss (21.8 percent, down 3,200 jobs), followed by North Dakota (13.2 percent, down 3,900 jobs).

Only 13 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs from February to October, AGC adds. Virginia added the most (7,100 jobs, 3.5 percent), followed by Kentucky (4,300 jobs, 5.4 percent) and Alabama (4,300 jobs, 4.5 percent). South Dakota posted the largest percentage gain (9.4 percent, 2,300 jobs), followed by Kentucky.

Construction employment decreased from September to October in 12 states, AGC says. It increased in 36 states and in the District of Columbia, and it was unchanged in South Dakota and Utah. Maryland shed the most construction jobs from September to October (2,600 jobs, down 1.4 percent), followed by Georgia (1,800 jobs, down 0.9 percent). Maryland also had the largest percentage decrease, followed by Delaware (down 1.4 percent, 300 jobs).

California added the most construction jobs over the month (26,300 jobs, 3.1 percent), followed by Texas (9,400 jobs, 1.3 percent). Alaska had the largest percentage gain for the month (10.1 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by Iowa (7 percent, 4,700 jobs).

Calling for action

AGC officials urge members of Congress to craft a new series of coronavirus relief measures to help offset declining demand for most types of nonresidential construction. Those measures must include new infrastructure investments, liability reforms to protect honest firms from unwarranted pandemic lawsuits and an extension of, and new flexibility for, measures like the Paycheck Protection Program.

AGC officials also urge Congress to ensure the current administration does not move forward with its plans to tax firms that used Paycheck Protection Program loans to protect essential construction jobs.

“With the pandemic raging again in most parts of the country, countless construction jobs are at risk as owners cancel or delay construction projects amid uncertainty about the future,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “Enacting needed new recovery measures now will help protect many good-paying construction careers during what will likely be a difficult winter for the economy.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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