Construction employment up 20,000 jobs in July 2020

By |  August 10, 2020


The construction industry added 20,000 jobs in July, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The uptick in employment, however, was limited to the housing sector as employment related to infrastructure and nonresidential building dropped by 4,000 jobs. According to AGC, residential building and specialty trade construction firms accounted for 24,000 jobs in July, but was partially offset by the loss of 4,000 jobs among nonresidential segments.

“It is gratifying that the construction industry continued to add jobs in July, but last month’s gains were entirely in residential building and specialty trades,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “It is likely that many nonresidential jobs are in jeopardy following the completion of emergency projects and ones begun before the pandemic. Projects that had been scheduled to start this summer or later are being canceled by both public agencies and private owners, while few new facilities are breaking ground.”

Nonetheless, the 20,000 added jobs in July comes on the heels of 163,000 jobs in June and 456,000 in May. Overall, construction employment in July remained 444,000 jobs – or 5.6 percent – below the recent peak in February.

According to AGC, the construction industry’s unemployment rate in July was 8.9 percent, with 870,000 former construction workers now idled – more than double the July 2019 figures and the highest figures since 2013 and 2012, respectively.

AGC officials urge the federal government to enact infrastructure funding in addition to other economic recovery measures.

“It is vital for officials of both parties, both sides of Capitol Hill, and the administration to come to agreement promptly on meaningful increases in infrastructure funding and other recovery measures,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO at AGC. “Without quick action, the nonresidential job losses that began in July will quickly worsen and the nation will lose a golden opportunity to start on improving infrastructure at a time of high labor availability and low materials and borrowing costs.”

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