Construction employment declined in 20 states and D.C. in March, analysis shows

Findings align with results of COVID-19 impacts survey conducted by AGC

April 20, 2020
construction employment

An analysis of new government data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America shows that construction employment declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. in March 2020.

According to the association, these findings align with the results of a recent AGC survey looking at coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts on the industry that found growing layoffs amid new project cancellations and state funding constraints.

Association officials warned that these cancellations mean massive job losses are likely to occur soon in even more states unless Congress helps cover rapidly declining state revenues and takes other measures to help the industry recover.

“While construction employment declined in many parts of the country last month, far more states, local governments, and project owners have halted construction in the five weeks since the government collected this data,” Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Our two latest surveys show a steep rise in cancellations of scheduled projects, which is leading to furloughs and terminations for both jobsite and office workers.”

While the new data shows a decline for 20 states and D.C., from February to March, construction employment held steady in six states and increased in 25 states. Over the 12 months ending in March, construction employment declined in only six states and D.C., held steady in two states, and increased in 41 states. AGC noted that the data is based on employment as of March 12, before most states or owners began curtailing construction.

In a recent online survey conducted by AGC, the association says 53% of the 830 respondents reported that a project owner had ordered a halt or cancellation to a current or upcoming project. The share of respondents reporting cancellations jumped to 19% from 7% a week earlier, suggesting that the volume of work will shrink rapidly once current projects finish. Another impediment to construction—listed by 27% of respondents—comes from state and local officials who have ordered construction shutdowns. The survey also found that 40% of respondents had furloughed or terminated workers by April 9, an increase from 31% just a week earlier. 

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SOURCE: Associated General Contractors of America

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