July Construction Employment Lags Pre-Pandemic Peak in 36 States

Construction employment in July remained below the levels reached before the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 in 36 states, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released August 20.

“This data shows that full recovery remains elusive for construction in most states,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, the fast-spreading COVID-19 delta variant may make it harder to find employees eligible to work on restricted sites and may also depress demand if some owners defer projects.”

From February 2020 – the month before the pandemic caused project shutdowns and cancellations – to last month, construction employment increased in only 14 states and was flat in the District of Columbia. Texas shed the most construction jobs over the period (-56,200 jobs or -7.2 percent), followed by New York (-52,600 jobs, -12.9 percent) and California (-35,100 jobs, -3.8 percent). Louisiana recorded the largest percentage loss (-15.3 percent, -21,000 jobs), followed by Wyoming (-13.5 percent, -3,100 jobs) and New York.

Of the states that added construction jobs since February 2020, Utah added the most (7,900 jobs, 6.9 percent), followed by North Carolina (5,700, 2.4 percent) and Idaho (4,400 jobs, 8.2 percent). The largest percentage gain was in Idaho, followed by South Dakota (7.5 percent, 1,800 jobs) and Utah.

From June to July construction employment decreased in 18 states, increased in 30, and was unchanged in Kansas, Tennessee, and D.C. The largest decline over the month occurred in Colorado, which lost 1,600 construction jobs or 0.9 percent, followed by a loss of 1,500 jobs each in Oklahoma (-1.9 percent), Texas (-0.2 percent), and Pennsylvania (0.6 percent). The steepest percentage declines since June occurred in New Hampshire (-2.2 percent, -600 jobs), followed by 1.9 percent losses in Oklahoma and Arkansas (-1,000 jobs).

North Carolina added the most construction jobs between June and July (4,300 jobs, 1.8 percent), followed by New Jersey (4,000 jobs, 2.7 percent) and Illinois (3,700 jobs, 1.7 percent). The largest percentage gains were in New Jersey and Connecticut (2.7 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by South Carolina (2.4 percent, 2,600 jobs).

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