Only 8 States Have Regained Construction Jobs Lost to the Pandemic

The construction industry's road to recovery from the coronavirus stretches on, and there are likely more bumpy patches in the months ahead.

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Earlier this year, the coronavirus pandemic brought about economic shutdowns that slowed most industries to a crawl and resulted in widespread layoffs. While there has been some economic recovery over the summer and into the fall, new data shows employment in the construction industry has yet to fully bounce back in most areas.

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According to an analysis of employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America, only eight states plus Washington D.C. returned to or exceeded pre-coronavirus construction employment levels. AGC officials are concerned that even those employment gains may soon be erased unless business loan programs begun early in the pandemic are renewed.

“The loans that were issued last spring saved tens of thousands of construction workers from unemployment but those funds are rapidly running out,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “Renewal of the loan program should be a top priority for any policy maker who cares about keeping the economy from backsliding.”

The eight states that reached or surpassed pre-coronavirus construction employment levels are:

  • South Dakota;
  • Utah;
  • Wyoming;
  • Virginia;
  • Kentucky;
  • Missouri;
  • Idaho;
  • Maine.

Another factor slowing down the recovery is the simple fact that COVID-19 has not gone away. New confirmed cases of coronavirus recently reached all-time highs across the U.S., averaging 86,000 per day.

“New spikes in coronavirus cases, along with ongoing pandemic-related costs and revenue losses, are causing ever more private owners, developers, and public agencies to delay and cancel projects,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC. “Although single-family homebuilding is gathering steam, multifamily and nonresidential construction activity has stalled, leaving large numbers of workers at risk of losing their jobs as current projects finish up with nothing on the horizon.”