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AGC Releases Metro Unemployment Data

Friday, June 5, 2020

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A new analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America has found that construction employment declined in more than 90% of metro areas from March to April.

The AGC says that while new federal transportation funding could help restore jobs, regulatory measures could undermine gains as well.

“Today’s employment report shows how few areas were left unscathed by April’s unprecedented job losses,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Sadly, our latest survey shows project cancellations are escalating, making further job losses inevitable unless there is funding for widespread new projects.”

The Findings

The analysis found that construction employment declined between March and April in 326, or 91%, of 358 metro areas and increased in only 20 areas (6%). Industry employment was also reportedly unchanged in 14 areas.

ktsimage / Getty Images

A new analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America has found that construction employment declined in more than 90% of metro areas from March to April.

Over the previous 30 years, 75% of metro areas added construction jobs from March to April, on average, while 12% of metros shed jobs.

New York City was the hardest hit with the largest number of construction jobs lost for the month—75,900 jobs or 49% of the March total. Other areas include 44,200 jobs or 41% in the Seattle area and 27,200 or 54% of jobs in the Montgomery, Chester and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, areas.

The AGC said that new federal infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, transit and rail systems, like those proposed in a recent transportation bill released by House Democrats, would provide a needed boost to construction employment in many parts of the country and support a broader economic recovery.

However, officials cautioned that new programmatic and regulatory requirements in the measure could undermine some the bill’s potential economic benefits.

“It is encouraging to see House Democrats proposing a significant increase in investments for transportation infrastructure,” said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.

“With over 40 million people unemployed and construction jobs declining in most metro areas, Congress needs to ensure that new, sustainable, investments bring as many people back to work as possible to help improve our aging highway, transit and rail systems.”

Previous Surveys

The AGC release a general unemployment survey at the beginning of May, which found that construction employment declined by 975,000 jobs in April—a drop that the AGC called the worst one-month decline ever.

The 975,000 jobs reportedly constitute about 13% of the industry’s employment.

That survey included more than 800 construction firms and, of those:

  • 30% said projects have been halted by government order (down from 35%);
  • 37% said the owners have voluntarily halted work;
  • 31% said owners have canceled projects because of a predicted reduction in demand; and
  • 21% report having projects canceled because of a loss of funding.

In terms of job cuts, 23% report cutting staff in March and 22% in April, with 80% saying that they have applied for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, with most getting approval.

However, about 18% of firms reported that they are considering returning the funds from the PPP because of the government’s vague guidance.

In terms of region:

  • 53% of firms in the Northeast termination or furloughed employees;
  • 29% in the South;
  • 38% in the Midwest; and
  • 45% in the West.

Many of those surveyed (43%) said that they hope for a larger federal investment in infrastructure to help in the current climate.

“Federal officials can, and should, take additional steps to help avoid more layoffs and economic hardship,” Simonson added. “The construction industry’s job losses have little to do with temporary work-stoppages, but a lot to do with longer-term economic problems that will not end with the stay-at-home orders.”

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' coverage on COVID-19, here.


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); COVID-19; Economy; Good Technical Practice; Jobs; Market data; NA; North America

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