Construction employment decreased from June to July in 26 states and the District of Columbia as earlier widespread job gains gave way to more project cancellations, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released Aug. 21. Association officials said construction employment is likely to continue falling in many parts of the country without new federal recovery measures, including liability reform and new infrastructure funding.
“Renewed outbreaks of coronavirus in numerous states likely caused many project owners and investors to pull back on planned construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Meanwhile, budget problems in state and local governments, most of which started a new fiscal year in July, led to cancellation or postponement of many infrastructure and public facilities projects.”
California shed the most construction jobs from June to July (-14,800 jobs or -1.7 percent), followed by Texas (-6,300 jobs, -0.8 percent). New Mexico had the largest percentage decrease (-5.9 percent, -2,900 jobs), followed by Vermont (-3.7 percent, -400 jobs).
Construction employment increased from June to July in 24 states. New York added the most construction jobs and had the largest percentage gain (13,600 jobs, 4.0 percent), followed by Missouri (4,400 jobs, 3.5 percent).
From July 2019 to July 2020, construction employment declined in 39 states, increased in 10 and held steady in Arkansas and D.C. California lost the most construction jobs over the year (-55,800 jobs, -6.3 percent), followed by Texas (-39,200 jobs, -5.0 percent).
Utah added the most construction jobs over the year (8,600 jobs, 7.8 percent), followed by Maryland (4,900 jobs, 3.0 percent). South Dakota had the largest percentage increase (10.5 percent, 2,500 jobs), followed by Utah.
Association officials warned that continued flare-ups of coronavirus across many states mean there likely will be even more project cancellations as the economic recovery stalls, forcing contractors to lay off workers again. They urged Congress and the Trump administration to work together to enact new recovery measures that include infrastructure funding, liability reforms and new fiscal measures to stimulate private-sector construction demand.
“Without new federal support, the industry’s recovery will be short-lived, risking new industry layoffs and declining investments in equipment and materials,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Rebuilding infrastructure, protecting businesses that are complying with coronavirus safety protocols and stimulating private-sector demand will help sustain the industry’s recovery, protect good-paying jobs and support the economy.”