Steel Markets

March Construction Employment Rebounds

Written by Sandy Williams

Construction industry employment rebounded in March, climbing by 110,000 workers from a plunge of 56,000 in February, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data.

“The rebound in March is certainly good news, but contractors face growing challenges that imperil further growth in nonresidential employment,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “In fact, industry job gains in the first quarter of 2021 as a whole have slowed sharply from the second half of 2020.”

Construction employment in March totaled 7,466,000, which was 182,000 employees or 2.4% below the most recent peak in February 2020. The industry averaged an additional 22,000 jobs per month during the first quarter of 2021, but was well below the June to December 2020 average of 76,000 per month, said Simonson.

Nonresidential construction employment continues to lag behind residential construction, said AGC. Residential construction building and specialty trade contractors employment is 1.6% higher than the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, whereas employment in nonresidential is still 4.9% below.

Last month, 835,000 former construction workers were unemployed compared to 658,000 in 2020, marking the highest March level since 2014, reported AGC. The industry unemployment rate was 8.6% compared to 6.9% a year ago.

“It will take more than nice weather for the construction industry to keep adding jobs this year,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “Investing in infrastructure, avoiding needless new regulations and counterproductive tax hikes, and fixing the supply chain will help the industry create many more high-paying construction career opportunities over the coming months.”

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