Construction Employment in January Lags Pre-Pandemic Mark in 42 States

Construction employment in January remained below pre-pandemic levels in all but eight states, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released March 15.

“Despite improvement in many sectors of the economy, nonresidential contractors are coping with widespread project cancellations and postponements, soaring materials costs, and lengthening delivery times,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “That combination makes further job cuts likely in many states.”

Seasonally adjusted construction employment in January 2021 was lower than in February 2020 – the last month before the pandemic forced many contractors to suspend work – in 42 states and was unchanged in the District of Columbia. Texas lost the most construction jobs over the period (-51,900 jobs or -6.6 percent), followed by California (-36,200 jobs, -4.0 percent), and New York (-26,000 jobs, -6.4 percent). Louisiana experienced the largest percentage loss (-14.0 percent, -19,200 jobs), followed by Wyoming (-9.6 percent, -2,200 jobs).

Only eight states added construction jobs from February 2020 to January 2021. Idaho added the most jobs (4,500 jobs, 8.2 percent), trailed by Utah (3,300 jobs, 2.9 percent), Alabama (6,100 jobs, 6.4 percent) and Arkansas (1,900 jobs, 3.6 percent,). Idaho added the highest percentage, followed by Arkansas and Alaska (3.0 percent, 500 jobs).

From December to January, 19 states and D.C. lost construction jobs, 27 states added jobs, and there was no change in Alaska, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming. California had the largest loss of construction jobs for the month (-4,000 jobs or -0.5 percent), followed by South Carolina (-3,200 jobs, -3.0 percent) and Illinois (-3,200 jobs, -1.4 percent). South Carolina had the largest percentage decline, followed by Wisconsin (-2.4 percent, -3,000 jobs).

Florida added the most construction jobs over the month (3,500 jobs, 0.6 percent), followed by Texas (0.4 percent). Vermont had the largest monthly percentage gain (3.4 percent, 500 jobs), trailed by Idaho (3.3 percent, 1,900 jobs).

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