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Residential Jobs Hike While Others Still Dip

Monday, September 14, 2020

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The Associated General Contractors of America recently released new data that suggests that the trend of an increase in residential jobs alongside a decrease in nonresidential and infrastructure jobs is continuing.

The AGC has found that construction employment increased by 16,000 jobs in August, but the gains were concentrated in housing, while the infrastructure and nonresidential building construction sector lost 11,000 jobs.

“Construction is becoming a tale of two sectors, as homebuilding and limited nonresidential niches thrive but most other private, as well as public, construction shrinks,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “These employment numbers are in line with our survey, which found a plurality of construction firms expect it will take more than six months before their volume of business matches year-ago levels.”

The Data

The AGC/Autodesk Workforce Survey of more than 2,000 contractors was released Sept. 2 and found that 38% of respondents expect it will take more than six months for their firm’s volume of business to return to normal, relative to a year earlier.

ktsimage / Getty Images

The Associated General Contractors of America recently released new data that suggests that the trend of an increase in residential jobs alongside a decrease in nonresidential and infrastructure jobs is continuing.

In addition, the latest survey found that 60% of firms reported that a scheduled project has been postponed or canceled, which is nearly double the 32% that reported cancellations in the June survey.

Moreover, the employment pickup in August was limited to homebuilding, home improvement and a portion of nonresidential construction:

  • There was a rise of 27,700 jobs in residential construction employment, comprising residential building (3,200) and residential specialty trade contractors (24,500); and
  • There was a net decrease of 11,000 jobs in nonresidential construction employment, covering nonresidential building (10,200), specialty trades (-15,700) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-5,500).

The industry’s unemployment rate in August was 7.6%, with 762,000 former construction workers idled. These figures were more than double the August 2019 figures of 3.6% and 361,000 workers, according to the AGC.

The AGC is urging Congress and the administration to pass a one-year extension to the current highway and transit law so officials can properly plan for the next construction season. They also called for additional infrastructure funding, liability protections for contractors who are taking appropriate steps to protect workers from the coronavirus and other pro-growth measures.

Past Data

The AGC shared data that split the employment by sector in August, which noted that construction employment had increased by 20,000 jobs in July, and those were limited to the residential sector.

The analysis revealed that while that sector saw an increase, employment related to infrastructure and nonresidential building construction dipped by 4,000.

Even after the changes, construction employment in July remained at 444,000 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 was 8.9%, with 870,000 construction workers idled.

   

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

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