Arlington, VA – The construction industry gained 22,000 jobs between August and September as nonresidential construction firms added employees for the first time in six months, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data recently released.
Association officials said nonresidential construction has been affected by the widespread supply chain problems, which are causing owners already uncertain about future demand for commercial space to delay or even cancel some projects. Construction employment in September totaled 7,447,000, an increase of 22,000 since August. However, industry employment remained 201,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020.
The nonresidential segment, comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors plus heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 18,600 employees in September. But nonresidential employment is 281,000 below the February 2020 level, as the sector has recovered only 56% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.
Residential construction, including building contractors such as homebuilders along with residential specialty trades, added 3,600 employees in September. Residential employment tops the February 2020 mark by 80,000.
Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, cited an unending series of supply-chain bottlenecks, as well as extreme price increases and long lead times for a variety of construction materials, as threats to further growth of nonresidential construction. He noted that the association has again updated its Construction Inflation Alert, a guide to inform owners, officials, and others about the cost and supply-chain challenges.
Association officials urged the Biden administration to remove tariffs and import quotas on a range of key construction materials to help address supply chain disruptions. They added that Congress can help offset declining nonresidential demand for construction by passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already cleared the Senate.