COVID-19 construction employment situation varies throughout state, but NYC, Nassau-Suffolk counties have suffered

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There are great disparities in New York communities in how COVID-19 has put pressure on construction employment.

For example Nassau County-Suffolk County has experienced the most severe losses nationally — an 8 percent decline or 6,000 jobs, between the start of the pandemic in 2020 and this September, according an by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America of government employment data released on Nov. 3.

Conversely, Buffalo in northern New York has experienced a 10 percent gain in employment, adding 2,100 jobs in the smaller market.

New York City didn’t fare so well. It lost 4 percent of its jobs (or 5,500), ranking it 331st in the nation.

Here are the totals, with numbers representing September 2020, September 2021, the gain/loss, percentage change, and national ranking.

  • Statewide Construction 384,800 375,200 -9,600 -2%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 390,100 380,900 -9,200 -2%
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy Mining, Logging, and Construction 20,900 22,200 1,300 6% 98
  • Binghamton Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,300 4,500 200 5% 124
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 21,600 23,700 2,100 10% 28
  • Dutchess County-Putnam County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,000 8,200 200 3% 197
  • Elmira Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,500 1,500 0 0% 259
  • Glens Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,600 2,700 100 4% 161
  • Ithaca Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,200 1,300 100 8% 47
  • Kingston Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,800 2,900 100 4% 161
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 78,200 72,200 -6,000 -8% 351
  • New York City Mining, Logging, and Construction 144,800 139,300 -5,500 -4% 331
  • Orange-Rockland-Westchester Mining, Logging, and Construction 43,100 40,800 -2,300 -5%
  • 338 Rochester Construction 21,800 23,500 1,700 8% 47
  • Syracuse Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,300 13,900 -400 -3% 315
  • Utica-Rome Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,700 3,800 100 3% 197
  • Watertown-Fort Drum Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,800 1,700 -100 -6% 345

In a statement, AGC officials noted that nationally, job losses are occurring in many metro areas as plans to boost investments in infrastructure languish in Washington and firms cope with shortages, delivery delays and construction materials price increases.

“Many metro areas are having a hard time getting back to construction employment levels from last fall that were already low because of the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The challenge is that the economic recovery for the construction industry is being undermined by Washington’s failure to boost infrastructure investments and continuing supply chain disfunction.”

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 67 metros and held steady in 33. Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. lost the most jobs (-6,000 or -8 percent), followed by New York City (-5,500 jobs, -4 percent); New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-3,100 jobs, -12 percent); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, Md. (-3,100 jobs, -9 percent) and Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (-2,400 jobs, -3 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-18 percent, -1,800 jobs); New Orleans-Metairie; Fairbanks, Alaska (-10 percent, -300 jobs); Knoxville, Tenn. (-10 percent, -1,800 jobs); Gadsden, Ala. (-9 percent, -100 jobs); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s; and Victoria, Texas (-9 percent, -300 jobs).

Construction employment increased in 258 out of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. added the most construction jobs (9,000 jobs, 13 percent), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (7,800 jobs, 8 percent); San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (7,600 jobs, 9 percent); Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (6,700 jobs, 5 percent) and Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,700 jobs, 9 percent). Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas had the highest percentage increase (20 percent, 3,300 jobs), followed by Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (19 percent, 600 jobs); Waterbury, Conn. (17 percent, 500 jobs); Albuquerque, N.M. (15 percent, 3,700 jobs) and Fargo, N.D.-Minn. (15 percent, 1,400 jobs).

Association officials urged members of Congress in the House to quickly pass an infrastructure bill that already received broad, bipartisan support in the Senate. They also encouraged the Biden administration to explore ways, like temporarily adjusting hours of service rules for drivers, to unclog shipping facilities that how more goods than drivers.

“Washington leaders have the ability to fix our supply chains now while also investing in their long-term efficiency,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But nothing is going to get fixed with partisan talk and legislative and executive inaction.”

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