According to the latest report from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employment increased by a net 20,000 jobs in July.
However, these gains were not seen equally across the industry. Employment in infrastructure and nonresidential building construction actually dropped 4,000 jobs, while residential building and specialty trade construction firms added 24,000 jobs. (Residential building and specialty trade construction firms concentrate on residential new construction, additions and renovations.)
Association officials cautioned that non-housing construction job losses will continue unless the federal government provides infrastructure funding for state and local budgets, enacts liability reforms and introduces other relief measures.
Total employment pickup in July follows gains of 163,000 jobs in June and 456,000 in May. However, construction employment in July remained 444,000 jobs (5.6%) below the recent peak in February 2020, which was just before the pandemic.
“It is gratifying that the construction industry continued to add jobs in July, but last month’s gains were entirely in the residential building and specialty trades,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist.
“It is likely that many nonresidential jobs are in jeopardy following the completion of emergency projects and ones begun before the pandemic. Projects that had been scheduled to start this summer or later are being canceled by both public agencies are private owners, while few new facilities are breaking ground.”
Compared to the most recent peak in February, employment in the heavy and civil engineering construction segment of the industry, representing firms that work mainly on highways and other infrastructure, was 7.4% below the February total. Employment at nonresidential building and specialty trade construction firms was 6.8% less than in February. Also compared to February, employment at residential building and specialty trade construction firms combined slipped by only 4.1%.