By Zachary Phillips
- Statistics are indicating construction work may be approaching precoronavirus numbers, according to data collected by Procore and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
- Using worker hours to measure construction activity during the pandemic and related government shutdown orders, Procore found that recent numbers are comparable, or in some cases higher, than those on March 1, the last week before shutdowns began.
- The majority of states and cities are seeing this change, which AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said could also be attributed to the warmer weather increasing the seasonal demand of construction work.
The data seemed to directly correlate with the shutdowns, Kristopher Lengieza, senior director of business development for Procore, said during a press conference Thursday. States that had few or no restrictions on shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders saw smaller drops in construction worker hours since March, and returned to normalcy faster.
At the same time, states greatly impacted by the coronavirus had more severe shutdowns, which led to the biggest drops in construction activity or worker hours, Lengieza said.
“The commercial construction industry has dealt with several tumultuous months,” said Simonson, adding that while the industry has been able to continue, it has not been immune to the effects of the virus.
New York City had it the worst, Procore found, with worker hours dropping to 88% lower than pre-pandemic numbers the week of April 5. New York City’s numbers as of the week of May 31 were still down 43%.
In Seattle, the worst was the week of March 19, where worker hours dropped by 71% in comparison to the beginning of the month, and in San Francisco, the worst drop was the week of April 5, where worker hours were down 53% from March 1.
In addition, the AGC also released the latest results of the organization's member survey. Notably, while the number of projects delayed by coronavirus shutdowns has slowed, cancellations of projects continue to rise, Simonson said, likely due to a lack of expectation for demand.
At the same time, contractors surveyed said they want Congress and the Trump administration to take more action to protect them and the industry in the uncertain environment.
“Members have made it clear,” Simonson said. “They’re looking for additional federal aid.”
The survey taken by AGC members between June 9 and June 17. Other notable results include:
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- 48% said they were directed to halt or cancel work by a project owner in the time period.
- COVID-19 was the most cited result for halting a project (33%) followed by an expectation of reduced demand (28%).
- Only 10% cited PPE shortages as a cause for delays, down 40% from two months prior.
- 46% of respondents said there had been no change in worker headcounts onsite during the measured time period.
- 30% said they expected it to take more than six months for demand to return to normal.
- 57% said they thought Congress and the Trump administration should enact “safe harbor” legislation to clearly protect contractors from liability in the event that they fail to prevent COVID-19 infections among workers.