Construction Jobs Take a Hit in January
The construction industry took a hit in January after losing 3,000 jobs on net, which Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu likened to "the damage to many state and local government balance sheets." Despite the setback last month, ABC said the construction industry added 857,000 jobs over the past nine months and recovered 77% of jobs that were lost at the start of the pandemic.
Overall, construction jobs saw a decrease of nearly 3%—a loss of 223,000 jobs—since January 2020. Nonresidential construction bore the brunt of the loss in January 2021, losing 1,900 jobs. Heavy civil and engineering was the only area to see a gain of 2,000 jobs last month, while nonresidential building and nonresidential specialty trade contractors dropped by 600 and 3,300 jobs, respectively.
"Multiple forces are shaping nonresidential construction market dynamics, with the result that industry employment has flatlined," Basu said in the report. "The construction industry began the COVID-19 crisis with significant backlog, according to ABC's Construction Backlog Indicator. This industry also has the enviable status of an essential industry in America. That pre-existing strength in a number of public construction segments continues to translate into demand for workers."
Residential construction also suffered a loss in January, albeit, only 600 jobs. Although residential building gained 3,600 jobs last month, residential specialty trade contractors lost a hefty 4,200 jobs. The residential sector, however, did increase nearly 1% year over year.
"…Public construction spending is set to weaken going forward in conjunction with a number of key private segments," Basu noted. "That said, there are some areas of current and prospective strength, including fulfillment centers, data centers, manufacturing facilities and healthcare. But much of the industry's fortunes during the balance of 2021 and into 2022 will depend on policymakers in Washington and their ability to deliver on their commitment to expanding the capabilities of the nation's infrastructure."
—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate