St. Louis Records Slight Increase in Commercial Construction Jobs during May-June

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

St. Louis experienced a 4 percent increase in its nonresidential construction workforce from May 2020 to June 2020, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

St. Louis’ May-June 2020 ranking places it in the middle of the pack of MSAs.

The winning regions this spring-summer – according to the AGC’s ranking – are Monroe, MI (with a 31 percent construction jobs increase in May and June) followed by a three-way tie of Boston, Detroit and the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI metro areas, all with 24 percent increases.

Yet despite widespread construction employment increases experienced by 358 metropolitan statistical areas over a 60-day period in May and June, construction employment nationwide fell by 62 percent year over year compared with June 2019.

AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said the annualized decrease in 225 of the country’s 358 metro areas is troubling.

“It’s troubling to see construction employment lagging year-ago levels in most locations, in spite of a strong rebound in May and June,” Simonson said. “Those (May and June 2020) gains were not enough to erase the huge losses in March and April (2020). 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.”

New York City lost the most construction jobs over 12 months – 38,200 jobs for a loss of 24 percent – despite recording the largest gain from May to June 2020.

AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr said the losses could well be reflective of the need for infrastructure funding needed to rebuild roads and bridges, and to rebuild the nation’s economy. “That new funding is needed to address state transportation shortfalls, fix aging public facilities and help retrofit structures to protect students and others from the coronavirus,” he said.

Construction employment increased modestly in July, according to Simonton, but the gains were concentrated in homebuilding and remodeling while non-residential construction employment stalled. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, residential building firms and residential specialty trade contractors added a combined 24,000 employees last month. Non-residential contractors – building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering – lost a combined 4,000 jobs in July. Compared to July 2019, residential construction employment was lower by 61,400 (-2.1 percent) while non-residential construction employment fell year over year by 247,800 (-5.4 percent).

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