Construction employment decreased in 225, or 62 percent, out of 358 metro areas between June 2019 and last month despite widespread increases from May to June, according to an analysis of new government data that the Associated General Contractors of America released yesterday. Association officials urged government officials to enact liability reform, boost infrastructure investments and extend tax credits to help the industry recover and rebuild.
“It’s troubling to see construction employment lagging year-ago levels in most locations, in spite of a strong rebound in May and June,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Those gains were not enough to erase the huge losses in March and April. Many indicators since the employment data were collected in mid-June suggest construction employment will soon decline, or stagnate at best, in much of the country.”
Simonson noted that construction employment was stagnant in 39 metro areas and increased in only 94 areas (26 percent) over the past 12 months. Eighteen metros had all-time lows for June construction employment, while 28 areas had record highs for June, in data going back to 1990 for most areas.
New York City lost the most construction jobs over 12 months (-38,200 jobs, -24 percent) despite having the largest gain from May to June. Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. had the largest percentage decline: -37 percent (-2,200 jobs). Austin-Round Rock, Texas added the most construction jobs from June 2019 to June 2020: 4,100 jobs (6 percent). Walla Walla, Wash. had the highest percentage increase: 27 percent (300 jobs).
From May to June—a month when construction employment typically increases in most metro areas, 291 metros added construction employees; 42 areas had a decrease; and employment was unchanged in 25 areas. New York City added the most construction jobs between May and June: 22,100 or 22 percent. The largest percentage increase occurred in Monroe, Mich.: 31 percent (500 jobs). New Orleans-Metairie La. lost the most jobs during the month: -1,500 jobs (-6 percent). The largest percentage loss was in Yuba City, Calif.: -10 percent (-300 jobs).
Association officials noted that Senate Republican leaders released a new coronavirus recovery measure earlier this week that includes provisions that can help construction firms rebuild their payrolls. These include liability reforms so construction firms that are protecting workers from the coronavirus will not be subject to needless litigation. The proposal also includes improvement to the Paycheck Protection Program and an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit the association supports.
“While the measure also addresses unemployment insurance and workforce development, it fails to include the kind of infrastructure funding needed to rebuild our economy” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “That new funding is needed to address state transportation funding shortfalls, fix aging public facilities and help retrofit structures to protect students and others from the coronavirus.”