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State-Level Contractor Employment Data Highlights Declines in Electrical Sales Potential

Sept. 24, 2020

The latest state-level construction employment data from the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics at is a harsh but realistic indicator of the electrical construction market. While the -4.2% overall year-over-year (YOY) decline through August in U.S. construction employment doesn’t sound all that awful, it represents an estimated decline in electrical contractor employment of -40,651 employees. When you consider that each of these employees represents $65,617 in buying power, according to the 2020 sales-per-employee estimates in EW’s 2020 Market Planning Guide, that represents a loss of $2.67 billion in contractor sales potential.

To bring these job losses down to the state level, consider that every 1,000 electrical contractor employees represents $65.62 million in electrical sales potential. Thirteen states lost more than 1,000 electrical contractor employees: California, New Mexico, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa and Washington (see chart on the bottom of the page for other state data).

Utah is one state tracking well above the U.S. year-over-year decline in construction employment. Based on EM’s estimates that electrical contractor employment historically accounts for an average of 13% of total construction employment, Utah added 1,144 employees at electrical contracting firms from Aug. 2019 to Aug. 2020.

For the past several years, Utah has had one of the more active construction climates in the nation. Along with the $4.1-billion renovation of the Salt Lake City International Airport, year-to-date through June, office construction along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains has been strong, and the city is one of the nation’s leaders in single-family building permits. According to an analysis of single-family building permit data through June by the National Association of Home Builders, as a whole Utah has logged a +15% increase in permits, and the Ogden-Clearfield, UT metropolitan statistical area (MSA) (+28%) and Provo-Orem, UT MSA (+17%) are above that.

Many of the state’s major MSAs are among the nation’s leaders in population growth and were featured in Electrical Wholesaling’s recent picks for the fastest-growing U.S. metros.

Click on map below to see state data or click here to download spreadsheet with data.