AGC: Construction Layoffs Spread Rapidly As Coronavirus Shuts Down Projects

National – More than a quarter of construction firms responding to an online survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America reported they had furloughed or terminated jobsite workers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The finding contrasts starkly with the association’s analysis of government data released recently that showed a majority of the nation’s metro areas added construction jobs through February.

The association reported that 27% of respondents to the survey reported they have furloughed or terminated construction workers. In addition, 55% of the firms said they had been directed to delay or cancel projects by their clients, while 26% reported they had been directed to stop construction activities by government officials. The survey was conducted from March 30 through April 2 and drew 1,294 responses.

The association’s analysis of metro employment data showed that construction employment increased between February 2019 and February 2020 in 217 (61%) of metro areas, declined in 89, and held steady in 52. The Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas metro added the most construction jobs over 12 months (12,000 jobs, 8%), while the largest percentage increase occurred in Walla Walla, Wash. (22%, 200 jobs). The Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. area lost the most construction jobs over the year (-4,400 jobs, -10%). The largest percentage decline occurred in Danville, Ill. (-20%, -100 jobs).

Association officials said the new February metro employment data, when compared to the recent survey results, demonstrates how quickly construction market conditions have deteriorated because of the coronavirus pandemic. They urged federal officials to begin crafting measures to support the post-pandemic recovery, including funding new infrastructure investments, compensating contractors for cancelled or delayed federal projects and supporting hard-hit pension plans many construction workers rely on for health and retirement benefits.

View AGC’s coronavirus resources here.