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S.C. loses thousands of construction jobs from March to April

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South Carolina lost 6,100 construction jobs from March to April 2020 as the industry saw job losses in every state except South Dakota.

An analysis (.pdf) of federal data by the Associated General Contractors of America found that nationwide, the industry lost 975,000 jobs — a drop of 13% — from March to April. New York lost 166,200 construction jobs, while Vermont saw a decline of 46.3%.

South Dakota alone added construction jobs, seeing an increase of 500 jobs.

South Carolina has lost 3,600 jobs from April 2019 to April 2020, a decrease of 3.4%.

An AGC survey (.pdf) found that 44% of 742 respondents had halted a project that was underway in April, while 16% canceled a project scheduled to start in April.

Thirty percent of firms had furloughed or terminated workers, but an equal amount added employees, including some that had laid off workers earlier.

“Our latest survey indicates that the paycheck loan program has enabled some companies to retain or add workers for now, but that relief will expire soon if not extended,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, said in a news release.

The AGC also found the construction spending shrank 2.9% in April. The month’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.35 trillion was its lowest since last November as each of the major categories tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau saw drops: public construction 2.5%; private nonresidential 1.3%; and private residential 4.5%.

Simonson said 10 out of 12 public and 10 out of 11 private nonresidential construction categories saw spending declines, including a drop of 5.2% in highway and street construction.  

“Although there have been scattered reports of acceleration in highway spending, many state and local transportation departments have been postponing or canceling projects as fuel-tax and toll revenues plummet,” Simonson said. “The highway construction downturn is likely to intensify in future months because, in many states, April is normally the first month of significant highway spending following winter shutdowns.”

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