New York COVID-19 pandemic construction job losses nearly the worst in the nation, and the pain isn’t ending

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage New York’s construction employment numbers. The state ranks 49th out of 50 both for job losses in November/December 2021, and from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, according to government employment data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.

Currently, 366,200 individuals are employed in construction, a 42,000 or (10.3%) decline from February, 2020, when 408,200 were employed in the industry in the state. These numbers include a 0.8% loss or 2,900 workers between November and December 2021.

Nationally, AGC reported on Jan. 25 that construction employment in December remained below levels reached just before the start of the pandemic in more than half the states as firms struggled to find enough workers to hire.

However, the association said that the Biden Administration’s decision to withdraw its emergency vaccine mandate for firms that employ 100 or more people will help firms avoid losing workers unwilling to comply with the new measure.

The decision by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its emergency temporary standard requiring workers at firms that employ 100 or more people to be vaccinated or tested weekly comes after the Supreme Court signaled its strong support for legal challenges filed by the AGC and other entities against the measure.

The association challenged the rule late last year noting that the measure was unlawful and would do little to boost vaccination rates among construction workers, citing the fact that 64 percent of the construction industry works for firms that employ 99 or fewer people. With nearly 90 percent of construction firms having a hard time finding workers to hire, the rule would simply have encouraged vaccine-hesitant workers to move to smaller firms.

“The Biden administration is right to abandon its misguided vaccine emergency rule and we encourage them to do the same with a similar measure affecting federal contractors that we are also challenging in court,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, we will continue to work with the administration to ensure its planned permanent vaccine rule applies only to workers in industries like healthcare that OSHA deems at high risk from the coronavirus.”

From February 2020—the month before the pandemic—to last month, construction employment declined in 26 states, rose in 23 states and D.C., and was flat in Montana. New York lost the most construction jobs over the period (-42,000 jobs or -10.3 percent), followed by Texas (-30,200 jobs, -3.9 percent) and California (-22,300 jobs, -2.4 percent). The largest percentage losses were in Louisiana (-12.6 percent, -17,200 jobs), Wyoming (-10.9 percent, -2,500 jobs), and New York.

Utah added the most construction jobs since February 2020 (10,000 jobs, 8.8 percent), followed by Washington (8,200 jobs, 3.7 percent) and North Carolina (7,900 jobs, 3.4 percent). The largest percentage gains were in South Dakota (10.5 percent, 2,500 jobs), followed by Utah and Idaho (8.2 percent, 4,500 jobs).

From November to December construction employment decreased in 16 states, increased in 32 states and D.C., and was flat in Nevada and South Dakota. Florida lost the most jobs (-3,400 jobs, -0.6 percent), followed by New York (-2,900 jobs, -0.8 percent) and Pennsylvania (-1,200 jobs, -0.5 percent).

Texas added the most jobs from November to December (10,400 jobs, 1.4 percent), followed by Ohio (5,700 jobs, 2.4%) and Missouri (3,700 jobs, 2.9 percent). West Virginia had the largest percentage gain (4.6 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by New Mexico (3.2 percent, 1,600 jobs) and Louisiana (3.0 percent, 3,500 jobs).

View state February 2020-December 2021 data and rankings, 1-month rankings.

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