Florida construction employment near stable year-to-year despite pandemic: AGCA

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Steep monthly declines in public and private nonresidential construction spending offset a surge in homebuilding in July, while industry employment decreased compared to July 2019 levels in two-thirds of the nation’s metro areas, according to an by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America of government data released on Sept. 1. Association officials said many commercial construction firms were likely to continue shedding jobs without needed federal coronavirus relief measures.

Florida’s results mixed — overall the state reported virtually no change in employment, but some areas reported significant employment losses (Fort Lauderdale lost 8 percent of its workforce) while others grew (Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville gained 12 percent, representing the third largest employment growth percentate in the US.)

Here are the detailed results by community. The numbers relate to July 2019 and July 2020 employment totals, the total number of jobs lost, percentage job loss and the ranking by metropolitan area nationally.

  • Florida Statewide Construction 565,900 567,000 1,100 0.2%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 571,600 572,400 800 0.1%
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers Mining, Logging, and Construction 32,700 32,900 200 1% 71
  • Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,800 7,200 400 6% 23
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,200 14,400 200 1% 71
  • Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Div.Construction 49,900 46,000 -3,900 -8% 245
  • Gainesville Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,200 6,400 200 3% 48
  • Jacksonville Construction 46,600 45,400 -1,200 -3% 150
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,200 15,400 1,200 8% 16
  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall Div. Construction 53,800 55,300 1,500 3% 48
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island Mining, Logging, and Construction 17,500 18,500 1,000 6% 23
  • North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Mining, Logging, and Construction 26,300 25,800 -500 -2% 131
  • Ocala Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,500 9,100 600 7% 18
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Construction 86,300 84,800 -1,500 -2% 131
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville Mining, Logging, and Construction 15,200 16,400 1,200 8% 16
  • Panama City Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,800 7,600 800 12% 3
  • Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent Mining, Logging, and Construction 12,300 12,400 100 1% 71
  • Port St. Lucie Mining, Logging, and Construction 12,100 13,200 1,100 9% 11
  • Punta Gorda Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,300 4,300 0 0% 91
  • Sebastian-Vero Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,500 4,500 0 0% 91
  • Tallahassee, FL Mining, Logging, and Construction 9,200 9,400 200 2% 59
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Construction 80,800 83,700 2,900 4% 40
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach Div. Construction 39,100 38,600 -500 -1% 121

“The dichotomy between slumping nonresidential projects—both public and private—and robust homebuilding seems sure to widen as the pandemic continues to devastate state and local finances and much of the private sector,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Without new federal investments in infrastructure and other measures to boost demand for nonresidential construction, contractors will be forced to let more workers go.”

Construction spending in July totaled $1.36 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a gain of 0.1 percent from June. A 1.2 percent drop in nonresidential spending nearly canceled out a 2.1 percent jump in residential spending, which was boosted by growth in both single-family (3.1 percent) and multifamily construction (4.9 percent).

Public construction spending decreased by 1.3 percent, dragged down by a 3.1 percent drop in highway and street construction spending and a 3.0 percent decline in educational construction spending, the two largest public segments. The next-largest segment, transportation facilities, also contracted, by 1.6 percent.

Private nonresidential construction spending slid 1.0 percent from June to July. The largest segment, power construction, dipped 0.1 percent. Among other large private spending categories, commercial construction—comprising retail, warehouse and farm structures—slumped 3.2 percent, while manufacturing construction rose 0.2 percent and office construction fell 0.7 percent.

Construction employment declined from July 2019 to July 2020 in 238, or 66 percent, out of 358 metro areas, increased in 90 areas (25 percent) and held steady in 30. New York City lost the most construction jobs (-26,500, -16 percent), while the steepest percentage loss occurred in Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. (-36 percent, -2,100 jobs). Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. added the most construction jobs over the year (4,800, 6 percent), while Walla Walla, Wash. had the largest percentage gain (25 percent, 300 jobs).

Association officials said that in addition to the new spending and metro employment data, the association is releasing the results of its annual workforce survey tomorrow that will underscore the need for new federal recovery measures. The construction officials called on Congress and the Trump administration to enact new infrastructure investments, pass a one-year extension to the current surface transportation law with additional transportation construction funding and enact liability reforms to shied firms that are protecting workers from the coronavirus from needless lawsuits.

“Without new federal relief measures, the industry’s limited recovery will likely be short lived,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress and the President should be taking advantage of current market conditions to rebuild our infrastructure, restore lost jobs and reinvigorate the economy.”

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