Residential Construction Employment Fully Recovers from Pandemic Losses
After a year of economic uncertainty, residential construction employment levels have climbed back to where they were pre-pandemic. But will it last?
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the residential construction industry in the U.S. is back at pre- COVID-19 employment levels. After gaining 37,000 new jobs in March alone, residential construction has added 518,000 new jobs over the last 11 months — more than enough to offset the 471,800 jobs lost to the pandemic.
But non-residential construction employment hasn’t bounced back as quickly. Just 64 percent of the non-residential construction jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic have been recovered, though the sector added 73,000 new jobs in March.
“The rebound in March is certainly good news, but contractors face growing challenges that imperil further growth in nonresidential employment,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). “In fact, industry job gains in the first quarter of 2021 as a whole have slowed sharply from the second half of 2020.”
While the strength of the housing market largely propped up the residential construction industry over the last year, non-residential construction has not experienced a similar boom. Pandemic-related complications led to more frequent cancellations of large-scale jobs and infrastructure projects, while material prices have risen sharply across the board.
Currently, non-residential construction employment remains 231,000 jobs short of the peak pre-pandemic employment levels of February 2020.
“It will take more than nice weather for the construction industry to keep adding jobs this year,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the AGC. “Investing in infrastructure, avoiding needless new regulations and counterproductive tax hikes, and fixing the supply chain will help the industry create many more high-paying construction career opportunities over the coming months.”