New York loses, then recovers construction jobs during COVID-19 pandemic: AGCA

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Construction employment in New York recovered dramatically between May and June, after an even more dramatic slump when the COVID-19 pandemic struck New York City and the state as a whole in March.

New York City lost the most construction jobs over 12 months (-38,200 jobs, -24 percent) despite having the largest gain from May to June, according to an  of new government data, as reported by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) on July 29.

Here is the most recent data for several New York market areas. The numbers include employment figures in May, June, the change in numbers, the percentage change and the national ranking. In smaller communities the totals include mining and logging as well as construction.

  • Statewide Construction 303,800 354,700 50,900 17%
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy Mining, Logging, and Construction 18,800 20,800 2,000 11% 45
  • Binghamton Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,400 3,500 100 3% 201
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 18,800 21,200 2,400 13% 28
  • Dutchess County-Putnam County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,300 9,500 1,200 14% 20
  • Elmira Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,300 1,400 100 8% 63
  • Glens Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,200 2,300 100 5%
  • 126 Ithaca Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,100 1,200 100 9% 56
  • Kingston Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,900 3,000 100 3% 201
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 65,400 78,000 12,600 19% 7
  • New York City Mining, Logging, and Construction 101,600 123,700 22,100 22% 5
  • Orange-Rockland-Westchester Mining, Logging, and Construction 34,000 38,000 4,000 12% 34
  • Rochester Construction 18,100 21,400 3,300 18% 9
  • Syracuse Mining, Logging, and Construction 11,200 12,800 1,600 14% 20
  • Utica-Rome Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,700 3,000 300 11% 45
  • Watertown-Fort Drum Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,300 1,500 200 15% 15

Nationally, construction employment decreased in 225, or 62 percent, out of 358 metro areas between June 2019 and last month despite widespread increases from May to June. Association officials urged government officials to enact liability reform, boost infrastructure investments and extend tax credits to help the industry recover and rebuild.

“It’s troubling to see construction employment lagging year-ago levels in most locations, in spite of a strong rebound in May and June,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Those gains were not enough to erase the huge losses in March and April. Many indicators since the employment data were collected in mid-June suggest construction employment will soon decline, or stagnate at best, in much of the country.”

Simonson noted that construction employment was stagnant in 39 metro areas and increased in only 94 areas (26 percent) over the past 12 months. Eighteen metros had all-time lows for June construction employment, while 28 areas had record highs for June, in data going back to 1990 for most areas.

Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. had the largest percentage decline: -37 percent (-2,200 jobs). Austin-Round Rock, Texas added the most construction jobs from June 2019 to June 2020: 4,100 jobs (6 percent). Walla Walla, Wash. had the highest percentage increase: 27 percent (300 jobs).

From May to June—a month when construction employment typically increases in most metro areas, 291 metros added construction employees; 42 areas had a decrease; and employment was unchanged in 25 areas. New York City added the most construction jobs between May and June: 22,100 or 22 percent. The largest percentage increase occurred in Monroe, Mich.: 31 percent (500 jobs). New Orleans-Metairie La. lost the most jobs during the month: -1,500 jobs (-6 percent). The largest percentage loss was in Yuba City, Calif.: -10 percent (-300 jobs).

Association officials noted that Senate Republican leaders released a new coronavirus recovery measure recently that includes provisions that can help construction firms rebuild their payrolls. These include liability reforms so construction firms that are protecting workers from the coronavirus will not be subject to needless litigation. The proposal also includes improvement to the Paycheck Protection Program and an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit the association supports.

“While the measure also addresses unemployment insurance and workforce development, it fails to include the kind of infrastructure funding needed to rebuild our economy” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “That new funding is needed to address state transportation funding shortfalls, fix aging public facilities and help retrofit structures to protect students and others from the coronavirus.”

View the metro employment 1-month , , , and 12-month , , , and .

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