97% of Utility Contractors Deemed Essential to Keep America Working

Large majority of NUCA survey respondents indicate work backlog is remaining constant or rolling with work stoppages

National Utility Contractors Association
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The “State of the American Utility Construction Industry” survey conducted last week by the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) of its membership found that 97% of its  members' work this month was considered essential by their state and local authorities.

In almost equal amounts, the NUCA member respondents said their work backlog is remaining constant (44%) or rolling with work stoppages (41%). The remaining 14% of members indicated their jobsite work had dramatically slowed down, bids were reduced to a trickle, or they had experienced large cancellations of private contracts.

“These results clearly show that for the U.S. utility construction industry we are doing our part to keep America working. That’s what an essential industry does for its community,” remarked Doug Carlson, NUCA chief executive officer. “Our member employees do their best to practice social distancing on jobsites. They wear durable PPE as part of their normal approach to safety at the workplace, including masks, gloves, and helmets. But the survey results also show that our industry continues to seek short-term financial relief to retain their employees and not lay them off.”

NUCA members are concerned about their business cash flow. Sixty-one percent % of survey respondents said they had filed for a Small Business Administration loan, but as of the date when the survey closed (April 23), 55% said they had not received their loan funds, with only 34% having received their Paycheck Protection Program funds. About two-thirds of industry applicants had applied through their local bank, with only one-third through a national bank branch, and less than 1% through a credit union.

The survey also asked NUCA members what kind of essential work was being completed during this emergency period:

  • 26% said they were working on water projects
  • 26% indicated wastewater projects
  • 5% electric projects
  • 4% on telecommunication projects

In addition, 38% indicated they were working on varied projects such as highway infrastructure repairs, municipal public works construction, emergency repairs on residential homes, gas line repairs, or ancillary business functions to keep these essential projects supplied with equipment or materials.