Construction Employment Remains Below Pre-Covid Levels in 39 States
Continuous demand coupled with labor shortages in the construction industry has halted production across the majority of the U.S. According to the Association of General Contractors (AGC), today's employment levels in the construction industry are still trailing employment levels prior to the global shutdown in 39 states.
"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, AGC's chief economist. "Soaring materials costs, long production times for key items and delayed deliveries are causing owners to postpone projects."
Data collected and analyzed by AGC shows that among the 39 states that continue to experience construction employment issues, New York suffered the greatest losses (-54,300 jobs) from February 2020 to June 2021. Texas came in a close second (-54,100 jobs) followed by California (-36,500 jobs).
Other states, however, experienced a larger deficit in the percentage of jobs lost in the construction workforce. According to the AGC's data, Wyoming lost the largest chunk of its workforce, about 15.3% from February 2020 to June 2021, followed by Louisiana (15.1%) and New York (13.3%).
Of the remaining 11 states that saw improvement, Utah added the most construction jobs (7,000) followed by Idaho (4,400) and South Dakota (1,400). The largest gains in construction employment by percentage went to Idaho (8.0%) followed by Utah (6.1%) and Rhode Island (5.9%).
According to AGC officials, two possible solutions to the supply chain could help improve the situation include:
- The removal of tariffs on key construction materials.
- The end of unemployment supplements to encourage new hires into the workforce.
"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, AGC's chief executive officer. "Unemployment supplements helped families survive the pandemic-related lock downs, but they are undermining the post-pandemic recovery."
– Bryan Mason, editorial associate