Report: Construction employment still lags pre-pandemic levels

Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have created construction jobs since February 2020, according to an analysis of federal employment data by Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Association officials note that widespread supply chain disruptions and the delay in the federal infrastructure bill have hampered the sector’s recovery.

“Construction employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in more than two-thirds of states,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC. “Supply problems have slowed down many projects and forced entrepreneurs to keep their jobs, while the lack of an infrastructure bill is leading some to delay hiring.”

From February 2020 to September 2021, construction employment declined in 35 states and stagnated in Connecticut while increasing in 14 states and Washington, DC Texas lost the most jobs during this period ( 48,000 jobs, down 6.1%), followed by New York (47,300 jobs, down 11.6%) and California (32,600, down 3.6%). The largest percentage losses were recorded in Louisiana (22,000 jobs, down 16.1%), Wyoming (3,600 jobs, down 15.7%) and New York.

Utah created the most jobs during this period (9,400 jobs, up 8.2%), followed by Washington (6,300 jobs, up 2.8%), North Carolina North (5,300 jobs, up 2.2%) and Idaho (5,100 jobs, up 9.3%). Idaho, Utah and South Dakota (1,900 jobs, up 7.9%) saw the largest percentage increases.

Between August 2021 and September 2021, construction employment declined in 16 states, increased in 32 states and Washington, DC, and remained unchanged in Iowa and Kansas.

The largest employment declines were recorded in Tennessee (2,800 jobs, down 2.1%) and Missouri (1,600 jobs, down 1.3%). The largest percentage declines were recorded in Alaska (800 jobs, down 4.9%), Tennessee and Montana (400 jobs, down 1.4%).

During the same period, Texas created the most jobs (8,900 jobs, up 1.2%), followed by Florida (6,900 jobs, up 1.2%) and Washington (3,600 jobs, up 1.6%). Connecticut recorded the largest percentage gain (1,700 jobs, up 3%), followed by Delaware (700 jobs, up 2.9%) and West Virginia (700 jobs, 2, 3%).

Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC, continues calls for the Biden administration to remove tariffs on a number of key building materials, including steel and aluminum, and do more to ease bottlenecks shipping that cripple many parts of the distribution network.

He urges House officials to swiftly pass a Senate-backed infrastructure bill to increase investment in the country’s transportation and water systems.

“The latest employment figures in the state show that congestion at our ports and on Capitol Hill is delaying construction employment, as well as the economy in general,” Sandherr said. “Even as the administration looks for ways to unblock national supply chains, the president should urge the House to pass the infrastructure bill on its own as quickly as possible.”

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