Employment down in 20 US states before advent of coronavirus

A survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has found that employment in construction declined in 20 states and Washington, DC, in March, with a much larger fall expected in April, when the impact of the coronavirus is taken into account.

The association’s survey analysed government data from February to March. This also showed that construction employment remained the same in six states, and increased in 24 states.

The AGC says layoffs are now accelerating as a result of project cancellations and cuts in state funding, which it warns will result in massive job losses. To help offset these, it is asking congress to cover declining state revenues and to fund Paycheck Protection Programme loans.

A recent AGC report showed 27% of US companies had laid off or terminated construction workers since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist, said: "While construction employment declined in many parts of the country last month, far more states, local governments and project owners have halted construction in the five weeks since the government collected this data.

"Our two latest surveys show a steep rise in cancellations of scheduled projects, which is leading to furloughs and terminations for both jobsite and office workers."

Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s chief executive, added: "There is a historic opportunity to repair ageing roads and other types of infrastructure. Without more funding from Washington, government officials will not have the resources necessary to improve the nation’s infrastructure and protect tens of thousands of construction jobs."

Image: Construction worker in America (Lawcain/Dreamstime)

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