US construction unemployment climbs to 10%

Some 9.6% of construction employees are unemployed according to Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), which blames the rate on winter weather, a weak non-residential market and Covid-19.

Altogether, 61,000 construction staff lost their jobs from January to February 2021, the first decline since April 2020 when 975,000 workers became unemployed.

Around 316,000 more workers were out of a job in February when compared with February 2020.

Over the last month, 5,500 nonresidential specialty trade contractors workers became unemployed and 3,300 non-residential contractors lost their jobs. In the heavy and civil engineering sector, 20,800 employees lost their jobs.

The AGC has suggested that the Biden administration should fund infrastructure, and in February 2021 wrote an open letter asking for a reduction in materials tariffs.  

Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist, said: "The steep decline in construction employment in February continues a downward trend in non-residential activity that began before the disruptions caused by last month’s freezes and power losses.

"Despite recovery in some parts of the economy, private nonresidential construction is still experiencing many cancelled and postponed projects and few starts."

Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s chief executive, added: "Washington officials can’t change the weather, but they can help boost demand for infrastructure, address spiking steel and lumber prices and avoid anti-recovery measures."

Image: Construction in New York (Mykyta Starychenko/Dreamstime)

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