St. Louis Bucks Pandemic-Driven Construction Layoffs Trend, AGC Survey Says

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

The St. Louis bi-state region is faring slightly better than one-half of all U.S. metro areas in terms of retaining its construction workforce and avoiding layoffs due to the pandemic.

According to data from the Associated General Contractors of America, only 34 percent of the nation’s metro areas added construction jobs from November 2019 to November 2020. AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said a newly released analysis of government data points to large numbers of contractors having to lay off workers once they complete projects 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 Simonson. “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.”

St. Louis’ metro region, however, is holding steady. Ranking 156th out of 358 U.S. metro areas, the bi-state region only lost 100 construction workers to layoffs between November 2019 and November 2020, according to AGC survey data. The region’s total construction workforce decreased very slightly, year over year, from 68,200 to 68,100.

Statewide over the same time span, Missouri’s construction force increased by 8 percent from 128,200 to 138,400 workers.

The U.S. metro region losing the most construction jobs year over year, according to the data, was Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX, with a decrease of 9 percent or 22,500 jobs. The U.S. metro region faring the best was Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, adding to its workforce by 3 percent or 4,700 jobs. To see the full survey results, go to https://www.agc.org/news/2021/01/05/barely-one-third-metros-add-construction-jobs-latest-12-months-dwindling-list

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