Construction Employment in February Tops Pre-Pandemic Total

March 29th, 2022 by Editor

Construction employment exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 32 states in February, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials warned the gains may be undermined if skyrocketing materials costs and delayed shipments cause owners to postpone or cancel projects.

“Construction is doing well at the moment in most states but fast-rising costs may cause some owners to cancel planned projects,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In addition, production and shipping delays are likely to slow down projects and the hiring associated with them.”

From February 2020—the month before the pandemic caused projects to be halted or canceled—to February 2022, construction employment increased in 32 states and decreased in 18 states and Washington.

Florida added the most construction jobs since February 2020 (14,100 jobs, 2.4%), followed by Utah (13,600 jobs, 12.0%), Tennessee (11,400 jobs, 8.6%), and Missouri (9,500 jobs, 7.4%). Idaho had the largest percentage gain (13.1%, 7,200 jobs), followed by Montana (12.3%, 3,800 jobs), Utah, Tennessee, Mississippi (8.4%, 3,800 jobs) and Missouri.

New York shed the most construction jobs over two years (-26,500 jobs, -6.5%), followed by Texas (-19,700 jobs, -2.5%) and Pennsylvania (-16,000 jobs, -6.0%). The largest percentage losses were in North Dakota (-6.8%, -1,900 jobs), New York, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma (-5.5%, -4,500 jobs).

From January to February, construction employment increased in 39 states, decreased in nine states and D.C., and was unchanged in Alaska and Louisiana. California added the most construction jobs (22,100 jobs, 2.5%), followed by Texas (5,900 jobs, 0.8%), Florida (5,500 jobs, 0.9%) and Tennessee (4,600 jobs, 3.3%). Rhode Island had the largest percentage gain (3.5%, 700 jobs), followed by Tennessee, Wyoming (3.1%, 700 jobs), Nebraska (2.7%, 1,500 job) and California.

Georgia lost the most construction jobs between January and February (-4,300 jobs, -2.1%), followed by Ohio (-2,800 jobs, -1.2%), Pennsylvania (-1,600 jobs, -0.6%) and Alabama (-1,200 jobs, -1.2%). Georgia also had the largest percentage decline, followed by decreases of -1.3% in D.C. (-200 jobs), and -1.2% in Alabama, Ohio and Maine (-400 jobs).

Association officials said that while some of the contributing factors to rising materials prices–like the Russian invasion of Ukraine–were hard to predict, they urged federal officials to continue working to unsnarl supply chains and supply disruptions. They also urged public officials to give contractors greater flexibility in adjusting their prices to address recent, abrupt spikes in costs for key construction materials, like diesel.

“Construction firms won’t be able to keep adding jobs in most parts of the country if rising materials prices turn every successful project into a financial loss,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Getting our supply chain moving efficiently again won’t be easy, but it is essential to the strength of the construction sector and the overall economy.”

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