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Sun June 13 2021

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Widespread layoffs hit US construction

3 Dec 20 Only 30% of the USA’s metropolitan areas have added construction jobs in the last 12 months, with project postponements and cancellations forcing widespread layoffs.

Areas coloured dark red lost more than 10% of construction jobs (click to enlarge)
Areas coloured dark red lost more than 10% of construction jobs (click to enlarge)

Associated General Contractors of America has released an analysis of new government data showing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on construction employment as businesses and local governments curtail planned projects.

“The pandemic has devastated the finances for businesses, institutions, and state and local governments, leading to widespread postponements and cancellations of construction projects,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “As contractors use up the funds from Paycheck Protection Program loans, even more job losses are inevitable unless the federal government provides an immediate economic boost.”

Construction employment fell in 209, or 58%, of 358 metro areas between October 2019 and October 2020. Construction employment was stagnant in 40 other metro areas while only 109 metro areas – 30% - added construction jobs during the past year.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land in Texas lost the most construction jobs over those 12 months (-19,800 jobs, -8%), followed by New York City (-17,300 jobs, -11%); Montgomery-Bucks-Chester Counties in Pennsylvania. (-12,100 jobs, -21%).

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Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton in Massachusetts had the largest percentage decline (-43%, -2,500 jobs), followed by Bloomsburg-Berwick in Pennsylvania (-36%, -500 jobs).

Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (7,100 jobs, 5%), with Walla Walla in Washington having the highest percentage increase (25%, 300 jobs).

Association officials said the best way to curtail future construction job losses was for Congress to pass new federal coronavirus relief measures. These measures should include making new infrastructure investments, eliminating plans to tax Paycheck Protection Program loans and enacting liability reform to protect honest businesses from baseless coronavirus lawsuits.

“Construction employment is likely to continue falling in many parts of the country unless Congress quickly passes new coronavirus relief measures,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Boosting infrastructure projects, preserving the benefits of the Paycheck Protection Program and protecting businesses from predatory attorneys will help stabilize the economy and demand for construction.”

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