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July Construction Employment Lags Pre-Pandemic Peak in 36 States

Concept of economic crisis, people unemployment and production
Most jobs lost in Texas and Louisiana; most added in Utah and Idaho since February 2020.

Construction employment in July remained below the levels reached before the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 in 36 states, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of government employment data. 

Association officials said construction employment would benefit from new federal infrastructure investments and urged the House to quickly pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“This data shows that full recovery remains elusive for construction in most states,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, the fast-spreading COVID-19 delta variant may make it harder to find employees eligible to work on restricted sites and may also depress demand if some owners defer projects.”

From February 2020—the month before the pandemic caused project shutdowns and cancellations—to last month, construction employment increased in only 14 states and was flat in the District of Columbia, according to AGC. 

The most construction jobs lost were in Texas (-56,200 jobs or -7.2%), New York (-52,600 jobs, -12.9%) and California (-35,100 jobs, -3.8%). 

The largest percentage loss was the 15.3% (-21,000) jobs in Louisiana. Wyoming (down 3,100 jobs or -13.5%) and New York followed.

Utah added the most jobs—7,900 or 6.9%. North Carolina added 5,700 jobs (6.9%) with Idaho—which boasts the largest percentage gain (4,400 jobs or 8.2%)—behind it. 

South Dakota recorded a 7.5% gain in employment—1,800 jobs added— with Utah's 6.9% increase being the third-highest gain. 

From June to July construction employment decreased in 18 states, increased in 30, and was unchanged in Kansas, Tennessee, and D.C., according to AGC.  

During that time, Colorado experienced a loss of 1,600 construction jobs (0.9%). Oklahoma (-1.9%), Texas (-0.2%) and Pennslyvania (0.6%) saw declines in that span as well.

Between June and July, New Hampshire lost 600 jobs—down 2.2%—and Arkansas saw a decrease of 1,000 jobs (1.9%). 

During that span, North Carolina added 4,300 jobs, followed by New Jersey (4,000) and Illinois (3,700). 

NJ and Connecticut saw the largest percentage gains (2.7%), with South Carolina (2.4%)—up 2,600 jobs—right behind. 

Association officials warned that construction employment was being impacted in many parts of the country because of supply chain challenges and growing market uncertainty caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

According to officials, new federal infrastructure investments would provide a needed boost in demand and help put more people to work in construction careers.

“New federal infrastructure investments will help put more people to work in high-paying construction careers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “The House can help put Americans back to work by immediately approving the infrastructure measure that passed the Senate with broad, bipartisan support.”

To view AGC's full statement and analysis, click here.

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