Recently, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released an analysis of federal employment data that shows construction employment is on the rise in a majority of metro areas across the country. Ironically, this has occurred as the supply of qualified labor remains tight across the country. According to the AGCA, national politics and policies on the subject of immigration have further constrained the qualified labor pool.
The data shows that construction employment increased in the majority of cities. From October 2018 to October 2019, it grew in 231 out of 358 metro areas, or 65%.
Construction jobs grew in such metropolitan areas as Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, N.V. The most construction jobs were added in the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas metro area with an increase of 14,300 jobs. The highest percentage increase occurred in the Omaha, Neb. and Council Bluffs, Iowa metro areas and a saw 20% growth. Auburn-Opelika, Ala. saw 15% growth. Construction employment reached a new October high in 76 metro areas overall.
Some cities saw losses in construction jobs. The largest numerical loss occurred in New York City, which lost 6,200 jobs. Fairbanks, Alaska had the greatest drop at 13%.
The AGC draws a strong correlation between federal policies and the dynamic between construction jobs and labor supply. According to AGC CEO, Stephen E. Sandherr, “Construction firms are doing their best to address labor shortages.” He adds that the federal government should make it easier to bring in workers for specific jobs that cannot be filled domestically “by putting in place needed immigration reforms.” The Trump Administration has made tighter immigration constraints a cornerstone of its policy platform.
The AGC also emphasizes the importance of career and technical education and implores the federal government to further fund this education to create additional opportunities for students seeking alternatives to college.