Construction employment down in most metros

By |  July 30, 2020
As the federal government continues to neglect infrastructure, more states have stepped up of late to provide necessary funding for roads and bridges.Photo:

Construction employment is currently down year over year in most U.S. cities. Photo:

Construction employment decreased in 225 of 358 (62 percent) metro areas between June 2019 and June of this year, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

“It’s troubling to see construction employment lagging year-ago levels in most locations, in spite of a strong rebound in May and June,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Those gains were not enough to erase the huge losses in March and April. Many indicators since the employment data [was] collected in mid-June suggest construction employment will soon decline, or stagnate at best, in much of the country.”

Simonson notes that construction employment increased in 94 metro areas (26 percent) while remaining stagnant in 39 areas over the past 12 months. Further, 18 metro areas had all-time lows for June construction employment while 28 had record highs for June, based on data dating back to 1990 for most areas.

Despite having the largest gain from May to June, New York City shedded the most construction jobs over 12 months (38,200 jobs; down 24 percent). Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Massachussetts, had the largest percentage decline, dropping 37 percent (2,200 jobs).

On the positive side, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, added 4,100 jobs (6 percent) over the 12-month period – the most of any metro area. Walla Wallaby’s, Washington, had the highest percentage increase in construction employment, up 27 percent (300 jobs).

Senate Republicans recently released a coronavirus recovery measure that includes provisions to help construction firms rebuild their payrolls, according to AGC. These measures include liability reforms, as well as improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program and an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

“While the measure also addresses unemployment insurance and workforce development, it fails to include the kind of infrastructure funding needed to rebuild our economy,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC. “That new funding is needed to address state transportation funding shortfalls, fix aging public facilities and help retrofit structures to protect students and others from the coronavirus.”

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