Construction employment increased in 230, or 64 percent, of 358 metro areas between May 2022 and May 2023, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials cautioned, however, that it is getting harder for firms to find workers as the unemployment rate for the construction sector continues to fall.
“While nearly two-thirds of metro areas added construction jobs in the last 12 months, the total would have been higher if contractors could find qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But with a construction unemployment rate in May of only 3.5 percent, there are very few suitable candidates available in many markets.”
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, added the most construction jobs (11,600 jobs, or 8 percent), followed by New York City (9,600 jobs, 7 percent); Columbus, Ohio (6,100 jobs, 13 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia (6,000 jobs, 4 percent); and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington (6,000 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains were in Hanford-Corcoran, California (18 percent, 200 jobs), and Danville, Illinois (17 percent, 100 jobs); followed by gains of 14 percent in Corvallis, Oregon (200 jobs), and Midland, Texas (4,900 jobs), and 13 percent in Columbus (6,100 jobs); Odessa, Texas (2,300 jobs); and Clarksville, Tennessee-Kentucky (500 jobs).
Construction jobs declined over the year in 79 metro areas and were unchanged in 49 areas. The largest loss occurred in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-5,400 jobs, -2 percent), followed by St. Louis (-5,100 jobs, -7 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California (-4,700 jobs, -3 percent); and Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Florida (-3,900 jobs, -7 percent). Monroe, Michigan, experienced the largest percentage job loss (-16 percent, -400 jobs), followed by Elgin, Illinois (-9 percent, 1,400 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (-8 percent, -900 jobs); and Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Florida (-7 percent, -3,400 jobs).
Association officials noted that AGC and its member firms are taking many steps to better recruit and retain new workers, including using digital advertising, working to make job sites more inclusive and building stronger relationships with local school districts. They noted, however, that the federal government continues to spend far more encouraging students to pursue college and “office” jobs while under-investing in education programs focusing on construction and other technical careers.
“The construction industry is investing millions to recruit and prepare new workers while the federal government is spending billions to encourage those same students to do anything but work in construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Federal officials need to boost funding for career and technical education.”