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Construction Employment Trails Pre-pandemic Levels in 35 States Despite Gains in Industry Jobs from October to November in 31 States

December 18, 2020

New York and Vermont Record Worst February-November Losses, While Virginia Has Largest Pickup; California, Nevada Have Worst One-Month Job Losses, While Texas and Delaware Post Biggest Gains

Construction employment in November remained below pre-pandemic levels in 35 states and the District of Columbia even though 31 states and D.C. added construction jobs from October to November, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released today. Association officials urged federal officials to swiftly renew a program to enable firms to keep workers on their payrolls while the pandemic is pushing back the start date for many projects.

“An increase in project cancellations and postponements is forcing nonresidential contractors to lay off workers as they complete projects started before the pandemic and firms exhaust their Paycheck Protection Program loans,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Despite strong demand for single-family homebuilding and remodeling, overall industry employment is likely to shrink in more states in the absence of federal assistance.”

Seasonally adjusted construction employment in November was lower than in February—the last month before the pandemic forced many contractors to suspend work—in 37 states, Simonson noted. New York lost the most construction jobs over the nine-month period (-39,700 jobs or -9.7 percent), followed by Texas (-37,200 jobs, -4.7 percent). Vermont experienced the largest percentage loss (-24.5 percent, -3,600 jobs), followed by North Dakota (-13.9 percent, -4,100 jobs).

Only 15 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs from February to November. Virginia added the most jobs and highest percentage (11,800 jobs, 5.8 percent), followed by Utah (5,800 jobs, 5.1 percent).

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