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Construction Sector Adds 84,000 Workers In October, But Growing Number Of Project Cancellations Risks Undermining Future Industry Job Gains

November 6, 2020

Both Residential and Nonresidential Contractors Added Jobs in October, but Total Construction Employment Remains 3.9 Percent Below February Peak as Pandemic Continues to Depress Demand

Construction employment increased by 84,000 jobs in October, with jobs added in both nonresidential and residential categories, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data released today. Association officials cautioned, however, that the pandemic is causing a growing number of construction projects to be canceled or delayed, according to a survey the association released in late October.

“The employment data for October is good news, but our latest survey found that only a minority of contractors expect to add to their workforce in the next 12 months,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “As project cancellations mount, so too will job losses on the nonresidential side unless the federal government provides funding for infrastructure and relief for contractors.”

Construction employment climbed to 7,345,000 in October, an increase of 1.2 percent compared to September. However, employment in the sector is down by 294,000 or 3.9 percent since the most recent peak in February, just before the pandemic triggered widespread project cancellations. Despite the employment pickup in October, nonresidential construction employment—comprising nonresidential building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction—remains 262,000 jobs or 5.6 percent below its recent peak in February, Simonson noted.

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