Survey: Residential Jobs Hike, Infrastructure Dips


While construction employment increased by 20,000 jobs in July, those were limited to the residential sector, according to an analysis of data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The analysis revealed that while that sector saw an increase, employment related to infrastructure and nonresidential building construction dipped by 4,000. The AGC is again attributing the number of infrastructure jobs to a lack in financial support from the federal government.

“It is gratifying that the construction industry continued to add jobs in July, but last month’s gains were entirely in residential building and specialty trades,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“It is likely that many nonresidential jobs are in jeopardy following the completion of emergency projects and ones begun before the pandemic. Projects that had been scheduled to start this summer or later are being canceled by both public agencies and private owners, while few new facilities are breaking ground.”

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.

The AGC is again calling on more funding from the federal government.

“It is vital for officials of both parties, both sides of Capitol Hill, and the Administration to come to agreement promptly on meaningful increases in infrastructure funding and other recovery measures,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO.

“Without quick action, the nonresidential job losses that began in July will quickly worsen and the nation will lose a golden opportunity to start on improving infrastructure at a time of high labor availability and low materials and borrowing costs.”

Previous Data

This is the second month in a row of the AGC’s monthly job analyses that indicated a rise in jobs for the residential market and a simultaneous decline in infrastructure. Those numbers included an addition of 158,000 workers in June.

“The gain in construction employment in June was concentrated in homebuilding, with scattered increases in nonresidential building, while heavy and civil engineering construction employment—the category that includes many highway and other infrastructure workers—shrank by nearly 10,000 jobs,” said Simonson.

“Unfortunately, those infrastructure-related jobs are likely to keep declining as state and local governments postpone or cancel projects in order to cover the huge budget deficits they are facing in the fiscal year that began for many agencies on July 1.”

At that time, statistics included:

  • Heavy and civil engineering construction segment lost 9,700 jobs in June and 60,100 jobs (-5.6%) over the year;
  • Nonresidential building construction employment increased by 13,100 for the month but declined by 47,000 jobs (-5.5%) over the year;
  • Employment among nonresidential specialty trade contractors rose by 71,300 in June but decreased by 140,000 (-5.2%) from a year earlier;
  • Residential building firms added 19,100 employees in June but lost 21,000 positions (-2.6%) over 12 months;
  • Residential specialty trade contractors added 64,100 employees last month but lost 63,000 workers (-3.0%) over the year; and
  • The industry’s unemployment rate in June was 10.1%, with 962,000 former construction workers idled.

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

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