Report: Construction employment still lagging pre-pandemic levels

By |  October 25, 2021


Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have added construction jobs since February 2020, according to an analysis of federal employment data the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) performed.

Association officials note that widespread supply chain disruptions and the held-up federal infrastructure bill have impeded the sector’s recovery.

“Construction employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in more than two-thirds of the states,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Supply problems have slowed down many projects and forced contractors to hold down employment, while the lack of an infrastructure bill is leading some to delay hiring.”

From February 2020 to September 2021, construction employment decreased in 35 states and stalled in Connecticut while increasing in 14 states and Washington, D.C. Texas lost the most jobs in that time (48,000 jobs, down 6.1 percent), followed by New York (47,300 jobs, down 11.6 percent) and California (32,600, down 3.6 percent). The largest percentage losses were in Louisiana (22,000 jobs, down 16.1 percent), Wyoming (3,600 jobs, down 15.7 percent) and New York.

Utah added the most jobs in that timeframe (9,400 jobs, up 8.2 percent), followed by Washington (6,300 jobs, up 2.8 percent), North Carolina (5,300 jobs, up 2.2 percent) and Idaho (5,100 jobs, up 9.3 percent). Idaho, Utah and South Dakota (1,900 jobs, up 7.9 percent) saw the largest percentage increases.

Between August 2021 and September 2021, construction employment decreased in 16 states, increased in 32 states and in Washington, D.C., and was unchanged in Iowa and Kansas.

The largest employment declines were in Tennessee (2,800 jobs, down 2.1 percent) and Missouri (1,600 jobs, down 1.3 percent). The largest percentage decreases were in Alaska (800 jobs, down 4.9 percent), Tennessee and Montana (400 jobs, down 1.4 percent).

In that same timeframe, Texas added the most jobs (8,900 jobs, up 1.2 percent), followed by Florida (6,900 jobs, up 1.2 percent) and Washington (3,600 jobs, up 1.6 percent). Connecticut had the largest percentage gain (1,700 jobs, up 3 percent), followed by Delaware (700 jobs, up 2.9 percent) and West Virginia (700 jobs, 2.3 percent).

Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO, continues his calls for the Biden administration to remove tariffs on a number of key construction materials, including steel and aluminum, and do more to relieve shipping bottlenecks that are crippling many parts of the distribution network.

He urges House officials to quickly pass a Senate-backed infrastructure bill to increase investments in the nation’s transportation and water systems.

“The latest state employment figures show that gridlock in our ports and on Capitol Hill is retarding construction employment, as well as the broader economy,” Sandherr says. “Even as the administration looks for ways to unclog domestic supply chains, the president should urge the House to pass the infrastructure bill, on its own, as quickly as possible.”

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About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor of Pit & Quarry and Editor-in-Chief of Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or

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