Recent Construction Employment Trend Is Mixed

According to an April report published by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employment increased in 234 out of the 358 metro areas in the United States, was unchanged in 52, and decreased in 72, during the time period from February 2015 to February 2016.

In specific, according to the report, it was many of the energy-producing areas that experienced job loss during the past year.

"Many parts of the country continue to see robust construction job growth as demand for projects rises," said Ken Simonson, AGC's chief economist. "Construction employment in many energy-producing areas, however, appears to be suffering, as lower prices for products like coal, oil and natural gas cut into demand for construction services."

Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine (California) added the most construction jobs during the past year (12,500 jobs, a 15 percent increase). Other metro areas adding large numbers of jobs included New York City (11,900 jobs, 9 percent); Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (7,800 jobs, 23 percent); and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (7,500 jobs, 13 percent).

Metro areas experiencing the greatest percentage gains were Monroe, Mich. (60 percent, 1,200 jobs); and El Centro, Calif. (48 percent, 1,000 jobs).

Metro areas experiencing the greatest declines in the number of jobs were Fort Worth-Arlington, Tex. (–4,100 jobs, –6 percent); Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio (–3,200 jobs, –12 percent); and Odessa, Tex. (–3,000 jobs, –15 percent).

Metro areas experiencing the greatest percentage decreases were Bloomington, Ill. (–16 percent, –400 jobs); Odessa, Tex. (noted above); Greeley, Colo. (–14 percent, –2,600 jobs); Decatur, Ill. (–13 percent, –400 jobs); and Laredo, Tex. (–13 percent, –600 jobs).

AGC officials report that it is unclear how many more jobs would have been added if it weren't for the severe workforce shortages that many firms have reported during the past several years. They added that these shortages are likely to have a broader impact on future construction employment growth, especially if the effects of lower energy prices remain relatively limited and localized.

"Considering the strong demand for construction that many parts of the country are experiencing, it is tempting to imagine how many more people firms would have hired had they been able to find more qualified workers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of AGC. "Assuming demand for construction services continues to grow, most firms will have an even harder time finding, recruiting and preparing new workers."

About the Author

William Atkinson

Freelance Writer
William Atkinson has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact him at .

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