Construction employment increased in 259, or 72 percent, of 358 metro areas between March 2022 and 2023, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials said expanding manufacturing construction was helping drive demand for new workers in many parts of the country.
“The growth in manufacturing construction is helping offset softening demand for housing and other types of projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, referring to construction spending data the association released in May. “The manufacturing boom is one of the key reasons construction firms in many parts of the country continue to hire new workers.”
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, added the most construction jobs (11,300 jobs, or 7 percent), followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona (8,900 jobs, 6 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada (7,000 jobs, 9 percent); Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (6,100 jobs, 3 percent); and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia (6,100 jobs, 5 percent). The largest percentage gains were in Fairbanks, Arkansas (20 percent, 400 jobs); Midland, Texas (18 percent, 6,100 jobs); Eau Claire, Wisconsin (18 percent, 600 jobs); and Elmira, New York (17 percent, 200 jobs).
Construction jobs declined over the year in 60 metro areas and were unchanged in 39 areas. The largest loss occurred in Sacramento—Roseville—Arden-Arcade, California (-6,800 jobs, -9 percent), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California (-6,600 jobs, -4 percent); Pittsburgh (-3,500 jobs, -6 percent); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California (-3,500 jobs, -3 percent); and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin (-2,900 jobs, -4 percent). Lawton, Oklahoma, experienced the largest percentage job loss (-26 percent, -500 jobs), followed by Monroe, Michigan (-13 percent, -300 jobs); Huntington-Ashland, West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio (-13 percent, -900 jobs); and Lake Charles, Louisiana (-11 percent, -1,500 jobs).
Association officials noted many firms report they need even more workers but struggle to find enough qualified people to hire. They called on federal officials to boost investments in construction training and education programs to close the five-to-one gap in what the government spends to encourage students to go to college versus preparing them for careers in high-paying craft fields like construction.
“One of the biggest obstacles to hiring even more construction workers is the federal government’s enormous campaign to urge students to pursue office-based service sector jobs that require expensive four-year college degrees,” Sandherr said. “If the feds spent half as much encouraging students to pursue high-paying careers in fields like construction, our industry would have more workers and young adults would have less college debt.”