COVID-19 and Employment

Construction was considered an essential business during the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, at least in most localities, but still suffered massive employment decreases. Overall, construction lost about 975,000 construction jobs in April 2020. This constituted nearly 13% of the industry’s employment and was, by far, the worst one-month decline ever. Unemployment among workers with recent construction experience soared by 1.1 million from a year earlier, to 1,531,000, while the unemployment rate in construction jumped from 4.7% in April 2019 to 16.6%.
According to the AGC (Associated General Contractors), while only 30% of member firms report projects have been halted by government order, 37% say their owners have voluntarily halted work out of fears of the pandemic, 31% have canceled projects because of a predicted reduction in demand, and 21% report having projects canceled as a result of a loss of private funding.
While many employers found ways to have critical workers do their jobs from home instead of an office, others had to lay-off or furlough office workers to compensate for a decrease in revenue. However, other industries have also been hard hit, including some that would seem to be immune. The tech segment, for example, would seem to be one where remote work is easily arranged.
Not so, apparently. The U.S. information technology sector suffered historic job losses in April as the nation’s unemployment rate reached a level not seen since the Great Depression, according to CompTIA, a trade association for the IT industry. The loss of 111,900 tech sector jobs represents the largest monthly contraction in the industry’s history. The previous low point occurred during June 2001 when 62,800 positions were eliminated.
No major industry sector was spared from business shutdowns, furloughs and layoffs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, with restaurants (-5,491,300), retailers (-2,106,900), and even healthcare (-1,436,300) the hardest hit.