Construction employment fell in 61 and was unchanged in another 51 out of 358 metro areas between June 2021 and June 2022, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials noted that employment was falling or stagnant in nearly one-third of metro areas at a time when many construction firms are struggling to find enough qualified workers to hire and cope with supply chain challenges and rising materials prices.
“Construction employment likely would have expanded in more metro areas if firms had the materials they need and the workers they want,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The impacts of these labor and materials shortages are becoming increasingly widespread, as communities and developers scale back construction ambitions to cope with the fact construction costs more and takes longer to complete.”
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, added the most construction jobs (26,600 jobs or 13%), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, (10,500 jobs, 7%); Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Illinois, (8,000 jobs, 6%) and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado, (7,700 jobs, 7%). Grants Pass, Oregon, had the highest percentage gain (25%, 300 jobs), followed by Cheyenne, Wyoming, (21%, 800 jobs) and Decatur, Illinois, (20%, 700 jobs).
The largest losses were in Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, (-5,600 jobs, -7%), followed by Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, New Jersey, (-2,700 jobs, -9%); Richmond, Virginia, (-1,500 jobs, -4%) and Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, Maryland, (-1,300 jobs, -4%). The largest percentage declines were in Bergen-Hudson-Passaic and Gadsden, Alabama (-9%, -100 jobs) followed by Ithaca, New York, (-8%, -100 jobs).
Association officials said attracting more people into high-paying construction careers and addressing supply chain backups will be key to ensuring the success of recently enacted infrastructure and semiconductor chip plant construction measures. They urged officials at all levels of government to invest in career and technical education programs and other workforce measures to expose more people to construction opportunities. And they continued to urge political leaders to take steps to ease shipping and manufacturing delays.
“Our members are ready to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and the manufacturing facilities needed to keep American globally competitive,” Sandherr said. “But it is time to stop telling every student that the only path to success runs through college and to take meaningful steps to fully restart an economy still struggling from the many coronavirus-related shutdowns.”