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Construction employment decreases in 26 states from June to July

By |  August 24, 2020


Construction employment decreased in 26 states and the District of Columbia from June to July, according to an analysis of government employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

AGC officials say construction employment is likely to continue falling in many parts of the country without new federal recovery measures, including new infrastructure funding and liability reform.

California lost the most construction jobs from June to July (14,800 jobs; 1.7 percent), followed by Texas (6,300 jobs; 0.8 percent). New Mexico and Vermont lost the largest percentage of construction jobs, shedding 5.9 percent (2,900 jobs) and 3.7 percent (400 jobs), respectively.

“Renewed outbreaks of coronavirus in numerous states likely caused many project owners and investors to pull back on planned construction,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC. “Meanwhile, budget problems in state and local governments, most of which started a new fiscal year in July, led to cancellation or postponement of many infrastructure and public facilities projects.”

On the plus side, 24 states saw increases in construction employment, with New York (13,600 jobs; 4 percent) and Missouri (4,400 jobs; 3.5 percent) leading the way.

On a year-over-year basis, however, construction employment declined in 39 states while increasing in 10 and remaining even in Arkansas and Washington, D.C.

From July 2019 to July of this year, California lost the most construction jobs (55,800 jobs; 6.3 percent), followed by New York (50,700 jobs; 12.5 percent). Vermont had the steepest percentage decline in construction employment (31.6 percent; 4,800 jobs), followed by New York.

However, Utah added the most construction jobs of any state over that same period (8,600 jobs; 7.8 percent), followed by Maryland (4,900 jobs; 3.0 percent). South Dakota had the largest percentage gain in construction employment (10.5 percent; 2,500 jobs), followed by Utah.

Looking ahead, AGC officials say continued coronavirus flare-ups across the country means there will likely be even more project cancellations as the economic recovery stalls, which, in turn, could force contractors to lay off employees again.

“Without new federal support, the industry’s recovery will be short-lived, risking new industry layoffs and declining investments in equipment and materials,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO at AGC. “Rebuilding infrastructure, protecting businesses that are complying with coronavirus safety protocols and stimulating private-sector demand will help sustain the industry’s recovery, protect good-paying jobs and support the economy.”

Zach Mentz

About the Author:

Zach Mentz is editor in chief of Portable Plants magazine and managing editor for Pit & Quarry magazine. Zach is a graduate of the Tim Russert Department of Communications at John Carroll University. His previous experience also includes time spent in the Cleveland Indians communications department.

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