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Survey: Coronavirus causes construction project delays, cancellations in Wisconsin

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 4:30 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Since the start of the pandemic, experts estimate the construction industry has lost more than 400,000 jobs because of projects being stalled across the country.

“Few firms have survived unscathed from the pandemic amid widespread project delays and cancelations,” said Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

Simonson said the results of a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 construction firms paint a grim picture of the current construction industry.

“Sixty percent of responding firms report having at least one future project postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus,” said Simonson.

In the Midwest, 62 percent of firms report having at least on future project postponed. In Wisconsin, that number jumps to 77 percent.

In Wisconsin, 46 percent say current construction projects have been halted too.

“What the response made clear is the coronavirus is delivering a one-punch to the construction industry. The pandemic is undermining demand for construction, prompting project delays and cancelations, layoffs and furloughs,” said Stephen Sandherr, CEO, Associated General Contractors of America.

According to the survey, conducted by Associated General Contractors of America, 34-percent of Wisconsin firms that participated say costs have been higher than anticipated to finish projects and 29 percent say projects have taken longer.

“Ironically, even as the pandemic undermines demand for construction services, it is reinforcing conditions that have historically made it hard for many firms to find qualified workers to hire,” said Simonson. “Roughly 1/3 of workers (across the nation) have been furloughed or terminated since pandemic.”

“The challenge is the coronavirus has put many contractors in the position to look for work and workers at the same time,” said Sandherr.

The survey also asked firms to predict when they might see their volume or business return to normal. In the Midwest, 42 percent of firms said ‘more than 6 months or never.’ In Wisconsin, 53 percent gave that same answer.

“I think there’ really a lot of uncertainty about the future course of construction,” said Simonson.

The survey results have prompted the Associated General Contractors of America to call on Congress to help by enacting new recovery measures.

“With a responsible amount of support from Washington, we can turn the current challenges into an opportunity to rebuild our economy and attract a new generation into good-paying construction careers,” aid Sandherr.

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