Louisiana is among 34 states where construction activity has returned to pre-coronavirus levels, according to recent data from Procore, a Silicon Valley construction technology firm, which released its findings in conjunction with a new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.
But don’t get too excited, says AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. It’s important to remember that construction activity typically increases between March and May as weather improves and more work gets underway, he says.
“Getting back to March 1 levels is a sign of progress,” Simonson says, “but it doesn’t mean things are back to normal.”
By the last week of May, construction worker hours were actually up 5% from the week ending March 1, before the coronavirus pandemic spread through Louisiana. Procore’s data is based on the transactions logged via the company’s software by tens of thousands of construction firms across the U.S.
That’s compared to a 27% reduction in worker hours Louisiana reported the week ending April 5—the steepest decline the state has seen so far throughout the pandemic. That was also the sharpest drop reported in the South that week and among the top 10 sharpest nationwide.
However, in subsequent weeks, a brief, V-shaped recovery period appeared to emerge for the state, with worker hours since March 1 down just 17% the week ending April 12, which crept up to 13% the following week and 9% the week ending May 3. The month of May proved volatile for Louisiana, which wavered from seeing worker hours reduced by 12% and 0% for most of the month.
Meanwhile, the association’s survey—based on responses from more than 630 U.S. firms collected June 9-17—shows some future projects are being canceled and many others are being delayed by supply chain issues and labor shortages, which Simonson says underscores the need for additional federal recovery measures.
Among other AGC survey findings:
• About 61% of firms report having at least one project halted or canceled because of the pandemic.
• Only 12% of firms plan to furlough or lay off staff over the next four weeks, while 17% plan to add to their headcount during that time span.
• Some 42% of firms do not expect demand will recover to normal levels for at least four months, with most expecting it will take longer than six months.