According to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) (Arlington, Virginia, USA), construction employment increased by 158,000 jobs in June while employment related to infrastructure decreased during the same span. AGC officials warn that unless the federal government increases state and local funding for bridges and other public works, additional job loss in this sector is inevitable.
“The gain in construction employment in June was concentrated in homebuilding, with scattered increases in nonresidential building, while heavy and civil engineering construction employment—the category that includes many highway and other infrastructure workers—shrank by nearly 10,000 jobs,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC. “Unfortunately, those infrastructure-related jobs are likely to keep declining as state and local governments postpone or cancel projects in order to cover the huge budget deficits they are facing in the fiscal year that began for many agencies on July 1.”
Simonson notes that in AGC’s latest study, conducted June 9-17, nearly one out of three contractors reported a project that was originally scheduled to begin in June or later had been cancelled. He adds that only one-fifth of firms reported winning new or expanded projects, continuing a trend that has held steady since April.
Overall employment in the construction sector remained 333,000 jobs, or 4.4.%, below the level established in June 2019. The heavy and civil engineering construction segment lost 9,700 jobs in June and 60,100 jobs (-5.6%) over the year, while nonresidential building construction employment has declined by 47,000 jobs (-5.5%) over the past 12 months.
On the residential side, job losses in the residential building and residential specialty trade industries has been relatively milder. With that said, the industry’s unemployment rate in June was 10.1%, with 962,000 former construction workers idled. These figures were two and one-half times as high as in June 2019 and were the highest June levels since 2012.
AGC officials emphasize the importance of enacting and implementing funding for infrastructure in order to avoid further construction job losses. They noted that the Moving Forward Act, which recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, was a first step in that direction but that a bipartisan approach is needed for funding to become law.
“We urge officials of both parties, both sides of Capitol Hill, and the Administration to come together promptly on meaningful increases in infrastructure funding,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “Without quick action, the job gains of the past two months will be lost, along with the opportunity to start on improving the nation’s infrastructure at a time when labor availability is high and materials and borrowing costs are low.”
Source: AGC, www.agc.org.