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AGC Releases Job Numbers for September

Monday, October 12, 2020

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The Associated General Contractors of America released its monthly employment survey results late last week, reporting that construction employment increased by 26,000 jobs in September, but the gains were again concentrated in housing.

The AGC again noted that the employment in the infrastructure and nonresidential sectors remained little changed. The Association noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was prompting a strong demand for new housing as more Americans work from home.

The Report

“Construction is becoming steadily more split between a robust residential component and generally stagnant private nonresidential and public construction activity,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, noting that in the three months since June, residential construction employment has increased nearly 3% while nonresidential employment has slipped 0.2%.

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The Associated General Contractors of America released its monthly employment survey results late last week, reporting that construction employment increased by 26,000 jobs in September, but the gains were again concentrated in housing.

“As project cancellations mount, so too will job losses on the nonresidential side unless the federal government provides funding for infrastructure and relief for contractors.”

The AGC its America-Autodesk Workforce Survey, which it released last month, that found that 38% of respondents—whose firms perform all types of nonresidential construction—expect it will take more than six months for their firm’s volume of business to return to normal, relative to a year earlier. That percentage topped the 29% who reported business was already at or above year-ago levels.

Simonson cites that increase in postponed or canceled projects for the pessimistic outlook, noting that that same survey found 60% of firms reporting a scheduled project had been postponed or canceled, compared to 12% that had won new or additional work as a result of the pandemic.

The employment pickup in September was mainly in homebuilding, home improvement and a portion of nonresidential construction. There was a rise of 22,100 jobs in residential construction employment, comprising residential building (6,600) and residential specialty trade contractors (15,500). There was a gain of 4,000 jobs in nonresidential construction employment, covering nonresidential building (5,300), specialty trades (2,100) and heavy and civil engineering construction (-3,400).

The industry’s unemployment rate in September was 7.1%, with 700,000 former construction workers idled. These figures were more than double the September 2019 figures of 3.2% and 319,000 workers, respectively.

The AGC believes that the nonresidential construction stalemate will likely continue while the pandemic persists without additional federal recovery measures, which again the AGC stressed, “must include liability protections for businesses that are protecting workers from the coronavirus, new infrastructure investments and funding for depleted state and local construction budgets.”

“Until businesses are confident enough to invest in new development projects and state and local governments are able to invest in public works, the commercial construction sector will not be able to fully recover,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC CEO.

“Protecting honest employers, improving our infrastructure and helping state and local officials fix schools and improve other public facilities will create the jobs people need and the momentum our economy requires.”

Previous Numbers

The most recent data noted that while jobs still are in a decline year-over-year, for the most part employment did rise between July and August.

The AGC reported at the end of last month that year over year, 39 states had reportedly lost construction jobs, however, 31 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between July and August according to the analysis.

Prior to that, AGC numbers continued to illustrate the gap between infrastructure and residential job demands, suggesting that the trend of an increase in residential jobs alongside a decrease in nonresidential and infrastructure jobs will continue.


Tagged categories: Associated General Contractors (AGC); COVID-19; Economy; Health & Safety; Jobs; NA; North America

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