Construction employment expanded in 247 metro areas, declined in 56 and was stagnant in 55 between January 2014 and January 2015, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said they were also launching a new effort, called #DriveBetterRoads designed to get Congress and the administration to finance and pass a long-term highway and transit measure.
"The picture is very positive overall, with more than two-thirds of metro areas recording increases in construction employment over the past 12 months," said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. "However, the gains remain spotty–several states have metros at both extremes of jobs added and lost. The market is likely to remain turbulent, as the drop in oil prices creates a different set of winners and losers from what existed a year ago."
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (14,100 jobs, 7 percent), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (11,200 jobs, 10 percent), Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (10,300 jobs, 12 percent) and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (10,200 jobs, 14 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind. (28 percent, 700 jobs), Bend-Redmond, Ore. (26 percent, 1,000 jobs), Lake Charles, La. (26 percent, 3,300 jobs) and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (25 percent, 4,300 jobs).
The largest job losses from January 2014 to January 2015 were in St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (-3,900 jobs, -7 percent), followed by Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio (-3,000 jobs, -10 percent), New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-2,200 jobs, -7 percent), and Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-2,100 jobs, -21 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. followed by Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio (-19 percent, -400 jobs), Bloomington, Ill. (-17 percent, -400 jobs), Santa Fe, N.M. (-15 percent, -400 jobs) and Sherman-Denison, Texas (-15 percent, -500 jobs).
Association officials cautioned that gridlock in Washington threatens future federal funding for highway, bridge and transit repairs and could undermine future construction employment growth. They added that the new #DriveBetterRoads effort is designed to let commuters and other road users advocate for less traffic and better road conditions. As part of the campaign, the association is urging people to share pictures of bad traffic, poor road conditions and aging bridges by tweeting them out with the common hash tag #DriveBetterRoads.
"We all have a stake in making sure Washington figures out a way to continue investing in good roads and safe bridges," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. "Our goal is clear, we want everyone who uses roads and bridges to understand they can Drive Better Roads as long as they make their voice heard in Washington."
View construction employment figures by state and rank.