Steel Markets

Construction Employment Declines as AGC Calls for More Infrastructure Spending

Written by Sandy Williams

COVID-19-related shutdowns and project cancellations caused construction employment in March to decline in 99 out of 348 metro areas year-over-year, said the Associated General Contractors of America in an analysis of government data. In an April 20-23 survey conducted by AGC, 68 percent of construction firms reported projects canceled or delayed in the past two months.

“These new figures foreshadow even larger declines in construction employment throughout the country as the pandemic’s economic damage grows more severe,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, the data for April and later months are sure to be much worse. In our latest survey, more than one-third of firms report they had furloughed or terminated workers—a direct result of growing cancellations.”

According to the AGC analysis, the largest percentage decline in construction employment between March 2019 and last month occurred in Laredo, Texas, which lost 19 percent or 800 jobs, followed by Lake Charles, La., which lost 18 percent (4,600 construction jobs). Lake Charles had the largest numerical decrease, followed by New York City, which lost 3,500 construction jobs (2 percent).

Construction employment increased over the year in 205 metro areas and was flat in 54. The largest percentage increases in construction employment occurred in Lewiston, Idaho-Wash. (23 percent, 300 jobs), followed by Walla Walla, Wash. (22 percent, 22 jobs). The largest numerical gain occurred in Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (10,200 jobs, 7 percent).

A new infrastructure bill would help offset some dramatic declines to construction demand since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, said AGC.

“New infrastructure funding will put more people back to work in high-paying construction jobs in communities throughout the nation,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “New infrastructure funding will also give a needed boost to manufacturing and service sector firms that supply construction employers, all of which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus and the related economic shutdowns.”

Latest in Steel Markets