COVID-19 impacting construction jobs nationally, infrastructure investments could help industry

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic has started to erode construction jobs nationally, according to new data from the Associated General Contractors.

AGC reports 99 out of 358 U.S. metro areas have now seen their construction employment levels move below what they were in 2019.  The Coronavirus has shutdown construction sites in some states and put some developments on hold.

“These new figures foreshadow even larger declines in construction employment throughout the country as the pandemic’s economic damage grows more severe,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, the data for April and later months are sure to be much worse. In our latest survey, more than one-third of firms report they had furloughed or terminated workers—a direct result of growing cancellations.”

Construction jobs in metro Phoenix, however, were still up when comparing March 2020 to March 2019. Phoenix had 136,400 construction jobs last month. That is up 4,900 from the 131,500 construction jobs in the Valley in March 2019.

Phoenix ranks sixth nationally for the most construction jobs gained between March 2019 and March 2020. Dallas is first with 10,200 jobs gained. Those dynamics are changing with COVID-19’s impact on the economy and real estate market.

AGC has surveyed construction companies on the impact of the pandemic with 68 percent of contractors nationally reporting project delays or cancellations and one-third of construction businesses reporting furloughs or layoffs.

Potential government infrastructure investments could help the industry, according to AGC officials. “New infrastructure funding will put more people back to work in high-paying construction jobs in communities throughout the nation,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “New infrastructure funding will also give a needed boost to manufacturing and service sector firms that supply construction employers, all of which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus and the related economic shutdowns.”

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