New York construction employment declines 7% in year (11% in NYC) as COVID-19 takes its toll

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New York’s construction industry employment in the year ending November 2020 suffered under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 7 percent statewide job loss (27,200 jobs).

Some communities fared much worse and one did surprisingly well, according to US Labor Department data compiled and analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Employment declined 22 percent in Utica-Rome and Watertown-Fort Drum, while employment reportedly grew in Dutchess County-Putnam County by 15 percent — the fifth largest growth by percentage in the nation.

New York City suffered, however, with a decline of 11 per cent or a loss of 16,700 jobs.

Here is a detailed list by market area.The numbers represent employment in November 2019, 2020, the actual gain/loss, the percentage change, and the national ranking.

  • Statewide Construction 406,000 378,800 -27,200 -7%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 411,500 383,500 -28,000 -7%
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy Mining, Logging, and Construction 20,900 20,100 -800 -4% 205
  • Binghamton Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,200 3,400 -800 -19% 337
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 21,400 21,500 100 1% 120
  • Dutchess County-Putnam County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,800 10,100 1,300 15% 5
  • Elmira Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,600 1,300 -300 -19% 337
  • Glens Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,700 2,400 -300 -11% 296
  • Ithaca Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,300 1,100 -200 -15% 324
  • Kingston Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,200 3,000 -200 -6% 244
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 84,400 79,600 -4,800 -6% 244
  • New York City Mining, Logging, and Construction 158,300 141,600 -16,700 -11% 296
  • Orange-Rockland-Westchester Mining, Logging, and Construction 45,100 41,600 -3,500 -8% 262
  • Rochester Construction 22,900 22,800 -100 -0.4% 159
  • Syracuse Mining, Logging, and Construction 13,800 12,300 -1,500 -11% 296
  • Utica-Rome Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,600 2,800 -800 -22% 347
  • Watertown-Fort Drum Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,800 1,400 -400 -22% 347

Nationally, only 34 percent of the nation’s metro areas—just over one-third—added construction jobs from November 2019 to November 2020, AGCA reported. Association officials said large numbers of contractors are having to lay off workers once they complete projects begun before the pandemic because private owners and public agencies are hesitant to commit to new construction.

“Canceled and postponed projects appear to be more common than new starts for far too many contractors,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Our association’s 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Survey found three times more contractors have experienced postponements and cancellations than new or expanded projects.”

Construction employment fell in 203, or 57 percent, of 358 metro areas between November 2019 and November 2020. Construction employment was stagnant in 33 additional metro areas, while only 122 metro areas—34 percent—added construction jobs during the past year.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost the most construction jobs over that span (-22,500 jobs, -9 percent), followed by New York City (-16,700 jobs, -11 percent); Midland, Texas (-9,800 jobs, -25 percent); Montgomery-Bucks-Chester counties, Pa. (-8,800 jobs, -16 percent); and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif. (-8,400 jobs, -11 percent). Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. had the largest percentage decline (-40 percent, -2,200 jobs), followed by Altoona, Pa. (-35 percent, -1,100 jobs); Bloomsburg-Berwick, Pa. (-31 percent, -400 jobs); Johnstown, Pa. (-31 percent, -800 jobs); and East Stroudsburg, Pa. (-30 percent, -600 jobs).

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. added the most construction jobs over the year (4,700 jobs, 3 percent), followed by Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (4,500 jobs, 5 percent); Boise, Idaho (4,300 jobs, 16 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (3,700 jobs, 2 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (3,600 jobs, 3 percent). Walla Walla, Wash. had the highest percentage increase (17 percent, 200 jobs), followed by Boise; Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisc. (16 percent, 900 jobs); and Springfield, Mo. (16 percent, 1,500 jobs).

Association officials said many metro areas were likely to lose more construction jobs amid declining demand and continued project cancellations and delays. They added that a clearer picture of what is in store for the industry will emerge on Thursday, January 7, when the association releases the 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook it prepared with Sage.

“Construction employment is likely to fall further in many parts of the country as the coronavirus continues to weigh on demand for nonresidential projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Unless market conditions change rapidly, this year is likely to prove very challenging for many construction employers.”

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

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