By Richard Branch, Chief Economist Dodge Data & Analytics
NEW JERSEY — JANUARY 11, 2021 — U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December as the economy downshifted in the face of rising COVID-19 cases across the country. The construction sector was one of the few bright spots during the month as it gained 51,000 jobs. Still, construction has added back less than 80% of the jobs lost in March and April.
Other data from the construction sector suggests construction has not escaped the distress from COVID-19. The Dodge Momentum Index, a leading indicator on nonresidential building activity, finished 2020 4.8% below where it was at the end of 2019 – a gap that would have been much wider if not for robust activity in the warehouse market. Outside of building related to e-commerce, planning for both commercial and institutional building has struggled to gain traction in the midst of weak economic growth.
Construction starts (ground breakings) also suffered greatly during the year. Building starts posted significant declines in 2020 with only single family housing and warehouse activity showing strength. Nonbuilding (infrastructure) starts also languished as state and local revenues declined.
The December jobs report is a poignant reminder that the U.S. economy was in precarious shape as 2020 ended due to the new wave of COVID-19 cases spreading rapidly across the country. For the first time in nearly a year, however, we can say that the immediate future looks brighter. The $900 billion stimulus plan approved by Congress at the end of 2020 will provide meaningful support for individuals and businesses. Further deployment of vaccines will also lead to a more rapid recovery as the year progresses. While it will be a long road back to full recovery, the construction sector is poised for a return to growth in 2021.
Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of commercial construction project data, market forecasting & analytics services and workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities that help them grow their business. On a local, regional or national level, Dodge empowers its customers to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, seize growth opportunities, and pursue specific sales opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry.
As of April 15th, Dodge Data & Analytics and The Blue Book -- the largest, most active network in the U.S. commercial construction industry -- combined their businesses in a merger. The Blue Book Network delivers three unparalleled databases of companies, projects, and people.
Dodge and The Blue Book offer 10+ billion data elements and 14+ million project and document searches. Together, they provide a unified approach for new business generation, business planning, research, and marketing services users can leverage to find the best partners to complete projects and to engage with customers and prospects to promote projects, products, and services. To learn more, visit: construction.com and thebluebook.com.
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