Construction employment increased in 278 out of 358 metro areas between September 2017 and September 2018, declined in 42 and was unchanged in 38, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released Oct. 30 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that construction employment is growing in most parts of the country as firms expand to keep pace with growing demand for construction.
"It is a good time to be looking for a high-paying job in construction in many parts of the country," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Construction hiring would likely have been even more robust if construction firms could find more qualified candidates to hire."
The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (29,500 jobs, 14 percent). Other metro areas adding a large number of construction during the past 12 months include Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (14,600 jobs, 13 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (14,100 jobs, 10 percent); and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (12,300 jobs, 17 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla. (27 percent, 3,600 jobs), followed by Midland, Texas (23 percent, 6,600 jobs); Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (22 percent, 9,600 jobs); and Weirton-Steubenville, W. Va.-Ohio (21 percent, 400 jobs).
The largest job losses from September 2017 to September 2018 were in Middlesex-Monmouth-Ocean, N.J. (minus 4,000 jobs, minus 10 percent), followed by Newark, N.J.-Pa. (minus 3,000 jobs, minus 6 percent); Camden, N.J. (minus 2,500 jobs, minus 11 percent); Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (minus 2,100 jobs, minus 14 percent) and Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (minus 2,100 jobs, minus 3 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Spokane-Spokane Valley, followed by Camden, Middlesex-Monmouth-Ocean and Charleston, W. Va. (minus 7 percent, minus 500 jobs).
Association officials said the construction employment gains were coming as most firms continue to benefit from positive economic conditions. They noted that tax and regulatory reform were helping boost private-sector demand while modest increases in infrastructure funding were sustaining public-sector investment levels. They added that the positive economic conditions appear to be helping most firms weather the impacts of higher labor and materials costs, for now, but urged Washington officials to reconsider imposing costly new tariffs that could undermine broader economic growth.
"Many construction firms are expanding their headcount as they benefit from favorable market conditions," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The question is whether conditions will remain positive amid a growing trade dispute with China and turbulent stock market conditions."
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