Construction employment expanded in 215 metro areas, declined in 74 and was stagnant in 50 between October 2012 and October 2013, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials added that despite the widespread jobs gains, construction employment remains below peak levels in 315 metro areas.
“October was a good month for construction employment in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “It will take many more months of strong jobs gains before construction employment returns to peak levels in many parts of the country, however.”
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (9,700 jobs, 13 percent); followed by Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (8,500 jobs, 10 percent); Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass. (7,500 jobs, 14 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (6,800 jobs, 11 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Pascagoula, Miss. (35 percent, 1,500 jobs); Eau Claire, Wis. (28 percent, 900 jobs) and Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.Va. (24 percent, 400 jobs).
The largest job losses from October 2012 to October 2013 were in Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif. (-4,300 jobs, -11 percent); followed by Raleigh-Cary, N.C. (-3,500 jobs, -12 percent); Gary, Ind. (-3,300 jobs, -15 percent) and Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. (-2,600 jobs, -7 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Modesto, Calif. (-22 percent, -1,500 jobs); Gary, Ind.; Rockford, Ill. (-15 percent, -700 jobs); Raleigh-Cary, N.C. and Yuma, Ariz. (-12 percent, -300 jobs).
Fargo, N.D.-Minn. experienced the largest percentage increase among the 21 metro areas that hit a new October construction employment high from the prior 2012 peak (22 percent higher). Corpus Christi, Texas added the most jobs since reaching its prior October peak in 2012 (4,200 jobs). Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, October 2006, peak (-85,200 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its October 2005 peak (-75 percent).
Association officials said Congress and the administration could help boost construction employment by quickly completing Water Resources Development legislation that has already passed both houses and passing a new surface transportation bill next year that funds repairs to aging roads, bridges and transit systems. They added that any new transportation bill must address funding shortfalls that have nearly depleted the federal Highway Trust Fund.
“If Congress can display the same kind of bipartisan support for transportation funding that it did for the Water Resources bill, it can help boost construction employment in many parts of the country,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.