In the wake of reports showing scattered construction industry job losses as a result of the COVID-10 outbreak and subsequent economic shutdown, a new national survey is providing a more comprehensive view of those losses.
The survey, published by the Associated General Contractors of America, shows that construction employment fell in nine out of ten metropolitan areas during the month of the initial shutdown.
The survey also shows, says Ken Simonson, “How few areas were left unscathed by April’s unprecedented job losses.”
Simonson, the chief economist for the AGC, continued in a statement: “Sadly, our latest survey shows project cancellations are escalating, making further job losses inevitable unless there is funding for widespread new projects.”
Overall, construction job losses from March to April were recorded in 326 out of 358 areas surveyed.
The greatest number of job losses were seen in the city that has had the largest number of COVID-19 cases: New York, which shed nearly 76,000 jobs as of April.
Other major losses were recorded on the other side of the country in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area of Washington state, with around 44,200 people in the construction industry there laid off.
The next largest metro area job losses were seen in parts of both Michigan and Pennsylvania, with between 26,100 and 27,200 workers respectively no longer on the payrolls.
Looking at the numbers nationally, 60 percent of construction firms surveyed said that either a current project was halted in April or cancelled altogether.
Some 66 percent of respondents reported that projects were canceled due to a combination of complying with “non-essential” government stoppage orders or a project owner’s concerns about COVID-19 dangers.
Even for companies still working, problems associated with the virus outbreak and economic shutdown were seen in the 22 percent of respondents who said they had experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment, as well as the 28 percent reporting a shortage of basic construction materials, equipment, and parts.
On the upside of the equation, while 80 percent of respondents said they had so far not taken on any new projects as a result of the pandemic, 14 percent reported that their companies this spring were involved with medical facility construction in either April or May.
Perhaps indicating a flattening of the curve, 24 percent of construction firms said they had added employees in May, up from 14 percent in April, and 5 percent in March.
In a separate question, while 43 percent of the companies nationally said they had experienced no changes in their headcount since the covid-19 outbreak, 22 percent reported hiring new workers during the same time period.
By Garry Boulard
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