Steel Markets

Job Cancellations Hurt Construction Employment in April

Written by Sandy Williams

Construction employment declined in nine out of ten metro areas from March to April, during a season when the industry normally sees employment levels climb, said the Associated General Contractors of America in an analysis of new government data.

“Today’s employment report shows how few areas were left unscathed by April’s unprecedented job losses,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Sadly, our latest survey shows project cancellations are escalating, making further job losses inevitable unless there is funding for widespread new projects.”

Simonson noted that 91 percent of 348 metro areas saw a decline in April and only 20 areas or 6 percent reported increases. Historically, 75 percent of metro areas on average add construction jobs during the March-April period.

The latest survey by AGC shows further job losses are likely due to job cancellations. One-fifth of survey respondents reported a project scheduled to begin in May had been canceled, as did nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of respondents regarding a project scheduled to start in June or later, compared to 16 percent in April.

New York City lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month: 75,900 jobs or 49 percent of the March total. There were also extremely large construction job losses in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. area, 44,200 jobs or 41 percent. Construction employment fell by half or more in three areas: Montgomery County-Bucks County-Chester County, Pa. (-54 percent, -27,200 jobs); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (-52 percent, -26,100 jobs); and Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. (-50 percent, -2,300 jobs).

“It is encouraging to see House Democrats proposing a significant increase in investments for transportation infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “With over 40 million people unemployed and construction jobs declining in most metro areas, Congress needs to ensure that new, sustainable investments bring as many people back to work as possible to help improve our aging highway, transit and rail systems.”

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