US Construction Activity, Employment at All-Time Low


Building activity has dropped to a new low with 975,000 construction jobs lost in a single month as the United States battles to control Covid-19.

The United State Census Bureau stats for April showed new residential construction permits dropped to 1,074,000; down 20.8 per cent on March and 19.2 per cent lower than April 2019.

As a result nearly 13 per cent of the industry's employment was lost, according to Procore, forcing lobby groups to push for federal help to protect employers and assist in recovery.

The census stats for April also showed housing starts dropped to 891,000 ; 30.2 per cent below March and 29.2 per cent below April 2019.

Meanwhile completions were at 1,176,000 ; 8.1 per cent below March and 11.8 per cent below April.

Related: US Build-to-Rent Payments Pick Up in May


According to the census the northeast of the country was the worst affected with permits, new starts and completions down around 40 per cent.

Associated General Contractors of America chief economist Ken Simonson said they did a survey of more than 800 companies at the start of May to assess the situation.

“We found that two-thirds of firms said owners had halted projects that were under way or cancelled upcoming work,” Simonson said.

“The most common reasons were the owners were concerned about possible infection on-site or they were cancelling future projects some as late as June or beyond because they think there would not be enough demand or funding to pay for those projects.

Related: Covid-19 Hurts US Build-to-Rent Construction Firms

“As a result about a third of our companies said they had to lay-off employees

“There was good news too however, about a quarter of firms said they had added employees and more expect to do so.

“Eighty per-cent of respondents said they had applied for and been approved and generally had received funds for the paycheck protection program loans.”

Simonson said the survey and data underscored the need for new federal measures to help the construction industry recover, including infrastructure funding, safe harbour provisions and fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program guidance.

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