A survey carried out by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has found that 27% of US companies have laid off or terminated construction workers since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 55% of respondents to the online questionnaire said they had been forced to reduce their headcount after clients suspended or cancelled work on site, compared with 39% the previous week. A quarter said they had been asked to stop work by government officials.
Almost 60% of those questioned reported delays or disruptions, of which 35% said they had experienced a shortage of material, parts or equipment, 28% had a shortage of skilled workers and 16% a shortage of federal inspectors.
The survey, which took place last week, indicates that the industry is facing a more severe dowturn than government figures suggest. Official employment data gave the industry’s employment up to mid-March as 7,605,000, an increase of 162,000 over the year.
Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist, said: "The March employment data does a better job reflecting market conditions before the pandemic than it does the widespread disruptions that have occurred during the past few weeks. Our survey indicates rapidly deteriorating labour and market conditions for the construction sector."
Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s chief executive, added: "We are just beginning to appreciate the severity of the economic impacts of the pandemic for construction workers and their employers. Washington officials have an opportunity, however, to use the construction industry as the vehicle for rebuilding our economy once the pandemic passes."
Image: Construction in New York (Mkdtw1/Dreamstime)