Construction Employment Numbers Continue to Slide in June

The construction industry is having a hard time generating consistent job growth. How long will these labor woes last?

Overall construction employment in the U.S. decreased by 7,000 jobs from May to June, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction employment has now fallen by 38,000 jobs over the last three months as the industry has struggled to regain momentum in the wake of the pandemic.

“Ours is an industry that, pre-pandemic, had workforce shortages, not just in New York, but really across the country,” said Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO of the New York State Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.

“Post-pandemic, we have workforce shortages. So, it’s sort of hard to wrap your head around the fact that you had that many job losses, yet you still have contractors that are having trouble finding a workforce.”

The nonresidential construction sector suffered the heaviest job losses, shedding 15,000 jobs in June. Gains in the residential construction sector, which added 13,000 specialty trade contractor jobs in June, were not quite enough to offset the losses in non-residential employment.

Construction employment remains 238,000 jobs short of peak job numbers from February 2020, just before the pandemic. And with the non-residential construction sector still hampered by the post-pandemic building landscape, and the housing boom that propped up residential construction gradually slowing, it may be awhile before the industry recovers to pre-pandemic levels.

“It is hard for the industry to expand when it can’t find qualified workers, key building materials are scarce, and the prices for them keep climbing,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “June’s job declines seem less about a lack of demand for projects and a lot more about a lack of supplies to use and workers to employ.”

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