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With COVID-19 stifling U.S. employment, Wisconsin metros gain construction jobs

More than half of Wisconsin metropolitan areas saw year-over-year gains in construction jobs in November, a month when barely a third of all U.S. metros recorded increases.

Citing non-seasonally adjusted federal data, the Associated General Contractors of America reported on Monday that only 34% of all metropolitan areas throughout the country saw construction jobs increase between November 2019 and November 2020. In Wisconsin, though, seven of the state’s 12 metro areas had gains.

The biggest increases were seen in the Fond du Lac area (up 15%) and the Oshkosh-Neenah area (up 16%). Gains were also recorded in Green Bay, Janesville-Beloit, Madison, Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis and Racine. Construction employment meanwhile either held steady or decreased in Appleton, Eau Claire, La Crosse-Onalaska, Sheboygan and Wausau.

Talking of the national figures, AGC officials said many contractors are having to lay off parts of their workforce after completing projects because of a lack of new work on the books. Projects continue to be either delayed or canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our association’s 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Survey found three times more contractors have experienced postponements and cancellations than new or expanded projects,” said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist.

For predictions about the coming year, the AGC is calling on industry officials to check out its 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, which is scheduled for release on Thursday.

“Construction employment is likely to fall further in many parts of the country as the coronavirus continues to weigh on demand for nonresidential projects,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer. “Unless market conditions change rapidly, this year is likely to prove very challenging for many construction employers.”

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