AGC’s analysis of new government employment data looked at a period that started in last month before the pandemic took hold. Association officials said that labour shortages and supply chain problems were keeping many firms from adding workers in many parts of the country.
“Typically, construction employment increases between February and June in all but 30 metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The fact that more than three times as many metros as usual failed to add construction jobs, despite a hot housing market, is an indication of the continuing impact of the pandemic on both demand for non-residential projects and the supply of workers.”
Eighty metro areas had lower construction employment in June 2021 than February 2020, while industry employment was unchanged in 21 areas. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land in Texas lost the most jobs: 33,400 or 14%.
Of the 257 metro areas - 72% - that added construction jobs over the February 2020 level, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights in Illinois added the most (14,300 jobs, 12%).
Association officials urged Congress and the Biden administration to make new investments in workforce development and to take steps to address supply chain issues. They also continued to call on the president to remove tariffs on key construction materials like steel and aluminium.
“Federal officials may talk about the value of craft careers like construction, but they are failing to put their money where their mouth is,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Until we expose more people to construction careers, and get a handle on soaring materials prices, the construction industry is likely to have a hard time recovering from the pandemic.”