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States Split in Recent Industry Employment Data

Thursday, August 27, 2020

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Construction employment has decreased from June to July in 26 states, as well as the District of Columbia, according to a new analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The newly released data suggests that the earlier job gains have given way to project cancellations, which the AGC attributes to a stall in federal recovery measures.

“Renewed outbreaks of coronavirus in numerous states likely caused many project owners and investors to pull back on planned construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

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Construction employment has decreased from June to July in 26 states, as well as the District of Columbia, according to a new analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America.

“Meanwhile, budget problems in state and local governments, most of which started a new fiscal year in July, led to cancellation or postponement of many infrastructure and public facilities projects.”

The Data

From June to July, the states with the highest decline—either by amount of jobs or percentage—included:

  • California (-14,800 jobs or -1.7%);
  • Texas (-6,300 jobs, -0.8%);
  • New Mexico (-2,900 jobs, -5.9%); and
  • Vermont (-400 jobs, -3.7%).

However, within the past month, 24 states have increased employment. Those states include:

  • New York (13,600 jobs, 4.0%); and
  • Missouri (4,400 jobs, 3.5%).

Year-over-year numbers, however, paint a different picture, as employment has declined in 39 states, including:

  • California (-55,800 jobs, -6.3%);
  • New York (-50,700 jobs, -12.5%); and
  • Vermont had the worst percentage decline (-4,800 jobs, -31.6%).

That scope’s upswing includes 10 states that increased jobs year-over-year. Those include:

  • Utah (8,600 jobs, 7.8%);
  • Maryland (4,900 jobs, 3.0%); and
  • South Dakota (2,500 jobs, 10.5%).

The AGC is asking Congress and the Trump Administration for measures that include infrastructure funding, liability reforms and new fiscal measures to stimulate private-sector construction demand.

“Without new federal support, the industry’s recovery will be short-lived, risking new industry layoffs and declining investments in equipment and materials,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO.

“Rebuilding infrastructure, protecting businesses that are complying with coronavirus safety protocols and stimulating private-sector demand will help sustain the industry’s recovery, protect good-paying jobs and support the economy.”

Most Recent Numbers

The last survey released by the AGC focused on the infrastructure versus residential sectors.

That analysis revealed that while the residential sector saw a 20,000-job increase, employment related to infrastructure and nonresidential building construction dipped by 4,000.

Even after the changes, construction employment in July remained at 444,0000 jobs, or about 5.6% below the recent peak in February.

Compared to the most recent peak in February:

  • Employment in the heavy and civil engineering construction segment of the industry—representing firms that work mainly on highways and other infrastructure—was 7.4% below the February total;
  • Employment at nonresidential building and specialty trade construction firms was 6.8% less; and
  • Employment at residential building and specialty trade construction firms combined slipped by a more modest 4.1%.

The industry’s unemployment rate in July at 8.9%, with 870,000 construction workers idled.


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

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