While Unemployment Numbers Soar, Heavy Construction Contractors Staff Up


A construction worker pouring a wet concret at road construction site

A construction worker pouring a wet concret at road construction site

MANASSAS, VA -- While unemployment numbers soar under COVID-19 restrictions, heavy construction contractors are looking to hire.

While many businesses in Virginia are required to remain closed under the governor’s stay-at-home order, heavy construction has been deemed an essential industry.

“It has not stopped working in Virginia, through this pandemic,” Ken Garrison, Executive Director of the Heavy Construction Contractors Association told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer. “We employ about 40,000 people in Northern Virgina across about 170 companies, and normally companies would be hiring in the spring and gearing up.”

The challenges presented because of the pandemic caused a delay in hiring, but not a delay in production, putting pressure on contractors to meet their deadlines, but without the necessary workforce to distribute the weight of the workload evenly.

“Now the firms are saying, ‘not only do we need to continue to hire on a regular basis,’ now they ready to continue going, continue expansion,” Garrison explains. “It presents a lot of challenges, and in some cases you have to look farther to bring in other subs. It’s one of the reasons firms are hiring.”

Like other essential industries, heavy construction contractors have had to navigate the new guidelines to protect workers’ health from the coronavirus when it comes to hiring.

“The challenge is to make sure that you’re not late [on the project],” Garrison says. “We’ve lost a couple of months of our hiring season, but we didn’t lose a couple months of our production season.”

Heavy construction contractors are responsible for projects that could impact the area as it begins to return to work after the pandemic.

“The biggest contract right now is the Ferrovial Allen Myers (FAM) that is building Interstate 66 from the Beltway out to Haymarket…everywhere you look, there’s a major construction project underway, and we need that to continue to serve, so that Northern Virginia can continue to be that wonderful enterprise that it is,” Garrison said.

Listen to the full interview here:

Ken Garrison