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U.S. construction employment struggles to recover

U.S. construction employment struggles to recover

ARLINGTON, VA. — U.S. construction employment in June remained below the levels reached before the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 in 39 states, according to a report of government employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America released July 16.

From February 2020, the month before the pandemic started, to last month, construction employment increased in 11 states and was flat in the District of Columbia. New York shed the most construction jobs over the period (minus 54,300 jobs or 13.3 per cent), followed by Texas (down 54,100 jobs, 6.9 per cent) and California (down 36,500 jobs, four per cent). Wyoming recorded the largest percentage loss (minus 15.3 per cent, or 3,500 jobs), followed by Louisiana (minus 15.1 per cent, down 20,700 jobs) and New York.

Of the states that added construction jobs since February 2020, Utah added the most (7,000 jobs, 6.1 per cent), followed by Idaho (4,400 jobs, eight per cent), South Dakota (1,400 jobs, 5.9 per cent) and Rhode Island (1,200 jobs, 5.9 per cent). The largest percentage gain was in Idaho, followed by Utah, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

“The construction industry is a long way from full recovery in most states, in spite of a hot homebuilding market in many areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Soaring materials costs, long production times for key items and delayed deliveries are causing owners to postpone projects.”

From May to June construction employment decreased in 25 states, increased in 24 states and D.C., and held steady in Maine. The largest decline over the month occurred in New York, which lost 6,900 construction jobs or 1.9 per cent, followed by Pennsylvania (minus 4,100 jobs, 1.6 per cent) and Texas (down 3,300 jobs, 1.3 per cent).

Georgia added the most construction jobs between May and June (5,700 jobs, 2.9 per cent), followed by Kentucky (2,700 jobs, 3.4 per cent) and Florida (2,500 jobs, 0.4 per cent).  

“Easing tariffs will help, but what the construction supply chain needs are workers to manufacture the products, ship them to contractors and build the projects the economy demands,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Unemployment supplements helped families survive the pandemic-related lockdowns, but they are undermining the post-pandemic recovery.”


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