February Rise In Construction Outlays Contrasts With Pandemic-driven Collapse In March As Owners, Government Orders Shut Down Projects

Survey Finds Contractors Face Shortages of Materials and Workers, Delivery Delays and Cancellations;  Association Officials Urge Additional Measures to Help Workers, Firms and the Economy to Recover

Construction spending in February increased 6.0 percent from February 2019, with year-over-year gains in both residential and nonresidential outlays, according to a new analysis of federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that their latest survey shows conditions for contractors have deteriorated rapidly since February. They called on Congress to urgently pass targeted recovery measures to boost infrastructure funding, compensate firms for lost or delayed federally funded work, and provide needed pension relief.

“Spending in February declined 1.3 percent from an upwardly revised, exceptionally strong pace in January that was aided by unusually mild winter weather in much of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Together, the rate in the first two months of 2020 represents a high-water mark immediately before government officials ordered widespread business closures and project owners canceled or halted work on their sites. The survey we conducted March 23 to 26 found that 39 percent of the more than 1600 respondents said they had been directed to stop work on one or more projects.”

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