Construction employment in Illinois declines 1% in March — what does the future hold?

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Construction employment declined in 20 states and D.C. in March, aligning with the results of a recent by the Associated General Contractors of America that found growing layoffs amid new project cancellations and state funding constraints. Association officials warned that these cancellations mean massive job losses are likely to occur soon in even more states unless Congress helps cover rapidly declining state revenues, adds funding for Paycheck Protection Program loans and takes other measures to help the industry recover.

Construction jobs in Illinois declined by 1,100 between February and March, about a 1 percent increase to 225,500.  The overall decline from the same period last year is slightly higher — a job loss of 2,000. Of course the job loss numbers are likely to be much higher in April as the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic take hold.

“While construction employment declined in many parts of the country last month, far more states, local governments and project owners have halted construction in the five weeks since the government collected this data,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Our two latest surveys show a steep rise in cancellations of scheduled projects, which is leading to furloughs and terminations for both jobsite and office workers.”

The association an analysis of new government data that showed construction employment decreased in 20 states and the District of Columbia. from February to March, held steady in six states and increased in 24 states. The economist noted the figures represented a rapid deterioration in a previously vibrant job market for construction. Over the 12 months ending in March, construction employment declined in only seven states and D.C., held steady in two states, and increased in 41 states. He added that the data is based on employment as of March 12, before most states or owners began curtailing construction.

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