Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported nearly 3 million more unemployment applications were filed in the last week. That brings the total to a staggering 37 million since the pandemic started. While we're all aware that leisure and hospitality have been hit particularly hard, many in our community have also felt the pain first-hand. Despite many states permitting even non-essential construction to continue through the pandemic, the industry saw the third largest drop in employment over the past two months at 13%. And within construction, only heavy and civil has been partially spared — thanks in part to "essential business" provisions.
And the numbers are even more stark when you look at our region, which was by far most impacted by the pandemic. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all saw among the steepest drops in employment according to an AGC analysis of BLS data. New York shed 41%, Pennsylvania 39%, New Jersey 23%, and Connecticut at 18%.
While there's a line of sight to construction sites opening in the region, there are lingering concerns that owners and developers may continue delaying or canceling projects — slowing the industry's recovery. It's not all bad news though, as many of our contractors have reported receiving PPP loans and as an industry construction was in fact the biggest beneficiary of the program. And fortunately, laid-off workers are still able to claim unemployment with the CARES Act's $600 weekly boost through the end of July.