NEW JERSEY – The COVID-19 pandemic has had sweeping impacts on the economy and virtually every industry sector. While the construction industry has weathered the storm better than some hard-hit industries—such as leisure and hospitality—construction is facing some unique challenges. Construction companies are currently contending with project cancellations and delays, supply chain disruptions, and COVID infections among workers.
Some parts of the country are more reliant on the construction industry than others, and some are facing worse COVID outbreaks and more stringent business restrictions, meaning the pandemic’s impact on the construction industry has had differential geographic impacts. While construction jobs account for 5.2 percent of all jobs nationally (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), some cities rely more heavily on the construction industry for employment.
Historically, construction employment tends to follow the business cycle, fluctuating with economic expansions and recessions. During the Great Recession that lasted from late-2007 to mid-2009, construction employment fell by 20 percent and then continued to fall until early 2010. It then steadily increased until early 2020. Along with overall employment, employment in the construction industry fell sharply in the spring during the early stages of the pandemic. It started rebounding in May but is still below pre-pandemic levels. Compared to a year ago, construction employment is currently down 2.4 percent.
Construction employment varies substantially on a geographic level. Some cities and states are much more reliant on the construction industry than others, with some areas employing large shares of construction workers. The West tends to depend more heavily on the construction industry while the Midwest and Northeast have lower shares of construction employment. At the state level, Wyoming and Utah boast the largest shares of employment in construction, at 8.5 and 7.6 percent, respectively. Connecticut has the lowest share of employment in construction in the country at just 3.6 percent.
Compared to a year ago, most states experienced declines in construction employment. Down 25 percent from the end of 2019, Vermont had the largest drop in construction employment out of all states. Some states, including Virginia and Missouri, saw employment in construction increase from 2019. Construction employment grew by 5.7 percent in Virginia and by 8 percent in Missouri.
To find the states with the most construction workers, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The researchers ranked states according to the share of employment in construction. Researchers also calculated the construction employment share compared to the national average, the total number of construction employees, and the year-over-year change in construction employment. Data was unavailable for Delaware and Hawaii.
The analysis found that in New Jersey, 3.8% of all wage and salary workers work in construction. Out of all states, New Jersey has the 3rd smallest share of employment in construction. Here is a summary of the data for New Jersey:
- Share of employment in construction: 3.8%
- Share of employment in construction (compared to average): -25.5%
- Total number of construction employees: 151,000
- Year-over-year change in construction employment: -7.9%
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Share of employment in construction: 5.2%
- Share of employment in construction (compared to average): N/A
- Total number of construction employees: 7,430,000
- Year-over-year change in construction employment: -2.4%
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, click here.