Report: Construction employment below pre-pandemic levels in most states

By |  January 26, 2021


Construction employment in December remained below pre-pandemic levels across 34 different states, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Over a 10-month period from February 2020 to December 2020, Texas lost the most jobs (35,600 jobs, 4.5 percent) while New York (30,900 jobs, 7.5 percent), Florida (17,500 jobs, 3 percent) and New Jersey (16,700 jobs, 10 percent) also saw significant reductions in construction employment. Vermont saw the largest percentage drop in construction employment at 23.1 percent.

While 34 states still trail pre-pandemic construction employment levels, 37 states and the District of Columbia added jobs more recently from November to December 2020, AGC says.

California saw the largest gain in construction employment (31,600 jobs, 3.7 percent) from November to December, followed by New York (8,500 jobs, 2.3 percent) and Illinois (8,300 jobs, 3.8 percent). New Hampshire experienced the largest month-over-month gain (4 percent; 1,100 jobs), followed by Illinois and New Mexico (3.8 percent; 1,800 jobs).

Even with recent gains, AGC continues to push for additional COVID-related recovery measures.

“While most states recorded construction employment gains in December, the pickup is likely to be temporary for many,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Participants in our association’s recent Hiring & Business Outlook survey expect the dollar volume of most project types available to bid on to decline in 2021.”

Only 15 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs from February to December 2020. AGC officials urge the federal government to enact measures such as federal infrastructure investment and backfilling state and local construction budgets.

“Contractors are eager to save as many jobs as possible during the next several months on the expectation [that] demand will return once the coronavirus comes under control,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO at AGC. “Washington officials can help save countless construction careers by acting now to stabilize demand.”

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