The Impact of COVID-19 on the Construction Industry in the United States

COVID-19 and Construction

New research released by the Center for Construction Research and Training focuses on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry through September 2020, examining construction spending, new residential construction and the well-being of small businesses.

A recent report published by the Center for Construction Research and Training notes that COVID-19 has had a “stark impact” on the U.S. economy and many industries, including construction. “Impact of COVID-19 on Construction Businesses and Productions,” published by researchers Samantha Brown, MPH, Raina D. Brooks, MPH, Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH, found that while stay-at-home orders aided in “flattening the curve,” they had stark impacts on U.S. workers and businesses, including construction.

The pandemic hit some sectors of the construction industry harder than others, researchers reported. Overall construction spending dropped $68.4 billion from January to May and increased by $44.7 billion from May to September in 2020, remaining about $23.7 billion below January 2020 levels. These trends were largely driven by private residential construction, which decreased by $49.5 billion from January to May and surged by $71.3 billion from May to September. In contrast, public residential construction increased slightly from January to September (+$1.3 billion).

Other key findings:

  • U.S. GDP dropped 31 percent in the second quarter of 2020 and increased 33 percent in the third quarter, the largest quarterly fall and rise ever recorded.
  • Residential construction was hit harder than other construction subsectors: spending dropped by $49.5 billion from January to May and surged by $71.3 billion from May to September. Over 60 percent of the fluctuation was in single-family home construction.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on construction businesses reduced after lockdowns lifted, with 16 percent reporting a large negative effect in October compared to 33 percent in April.
  • Construction businesses with less than five employees were more likely to report a large negative effect of COVID-19, yet less likely to receive federal financial assistance.


Promoting Business Resiliency in the Time of COVID


With the recent resurgence of coronavirus cases across the country, construction companies need to develop a plan to protect their employees and prevent the spread of COVID-19 following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), researchers added. CPWR has created a free planning tool, aligned with the COVID-19 Construction Clearinghouse, to help construction employers of all sizes develop a COVID-19 exposure control plan that conforms to CDC and OSHA guidance.

It shows how to develop an effective plan step-by-step, including analyzing job hazards from COVID-19, using personal protective equipment and administrative controls, screening workers and visitors, and training employees. OSHA also offers no-cost, on-site confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states, and gives priority to high-hazard worksites. Moreover, it is important to stay informed about the latest developments and recommendations since specific guidance may amend based upon changing situations.

Intelex has created and curated a collection of valuable resources you need to respond to COVID-19, return to the workplace, and reimagine your work environment as a whole. We also encourage you to have a look at our newly built COVID-19-specific application, Exposure Tracker, that has been designed to help you mitigate COVID risk to your workforce and ensure stable operations.

Here are just a few of the COVID-related resources you might find useful:


Construction-related resources from Intelex:

This entry was posted in Health & Safety Management and tagged , , , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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