Construction employment increased in 145 out of 339 metropolitan areas between January 2012 and January 2013, declined in 141 and was stagnant in 53, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released March 22 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that after years of declining construction employment contractors in some metro areas are beginning to worry about the availability of skilled workers now that they have resumed hiring.
“Not only are a slight plurality of metro areas adding construction jobs, but those areas appear to be adding jobs at a faster rate than places where construction employment continues to decline,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Considering the already-released national construction employment figures for February, we are likely to see more metro areas adding jobs in the next report.”
Pascagoula, Miss., added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (45 percent, 1,500 jobs) followed by Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas (19 percent, 600 jobs); Cheyenne, Wyo. (19 percent, 500 jobs) and Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H. (18 percent, 600 jobs). Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (10,100 jobs, 10 percent) added the most jobs. Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (9,600 jobs, 9 percent); Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (8,700 jobs, 5 percent) and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (6,000 jobs, 7 percent).
The largest job losses were in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (minus 3,500 jobs, minus 3 percent) and Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. (minus 3,500 jobs, minus 19 percent); followed by Northern Virginia (minus 3,200 jobs, minus 5 percent); and Charleston, W.V. (minus 2,900 jobs, minus 20 percent). Charleston, W.V. lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. (minus 19 percent, minus 1,000 jobs); Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Kankakee-Bradley, Ill. (minus 18 percent, minus 200 jobs) and Akron, Ohio (minus 17 percent, minus 1,800 jobs).
Association officials noted that after years of declining construction employment, many former construction workers have left for other industries or retired. They added that the industry’s dire conditions have deterred many graduates from pursuing careers in construction and as a result, the industry is likely to face a shortage of available skilled workers in some parts of the country if the industry continues to add jobs.
“Between the challenges of attracting new recruits and retaining out-of-work ones, there aren’t that many skilled workers waiting for a call-back in many parts of the country,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If the industry continues to add jobs, it won’t be long before contractors in some parts of the country are scrambling to find enough skilled workers to meet demand.”
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