A survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has found that most American contractors do not plan on taking on employees over the coming year.
Its survey of companies found that only 35% expect to expand their payroll, 24% plan to decrease it and 41% expect to maintain their present level.
The news comes despite figures showing that 51,000 jobs were added in December, which the AGC estimates to be temporary additions.
Those questioned in the 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook were most pessimistic about retail construction, which has a net reading of -64%, followed by lodging and private office construction, which have a -58% net reading.
Some 59% of firms reported that they had projects scheduled to start in 2020 that had been postponed until 2021, and 44% reported that they had projects cancelled in 2020 that have not been rescheduled.
Another 55% of businesses do not expect their revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels for more than six months, or are unsure when their businesses will recover.
Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s chief executive, said: "This is clearly going to be a difficult year for the construction industry. Demand looks likely to continue shrinking, projects are getting delayed or cancelled, productivity is declining and few firms plan to expand their headcount."
Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist, said: "The unfortunate fact is too few of the newly unemployed are considering construction careers, despite the high pay and significant opportunities for advancement.
"The pandemic is also undermining construction productivity as contractors make significant changes to project staffing to protect workers and communities from the virus."
Image: Construction site in California (Scott Blake/Unsplash)