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Construction Employment Increases in 234 Out of 358 Metro Areas between February 2015 and 2016

Construction employment increased in 234 out of 358 metro areas, was unchanged in 52 and declined in 72 between February 2015 and February 2016, according to an analysis of federal employment data released April 5 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that many energy-producing areas experienced job losses during the past year.


“Many parts of the country continue to see robust construction job growth as demand for projects rises,” said Ken Simonson, the association’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 cuts into demand for construction services.”


Anaheim–Santa Ana–Irvine, Calif., added the most construction jobs during the past year (12,500 jobs, 15 percent). Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs include New York City, N.Y. (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). The largest percentage gains occurred in Monroe, Mich. (60 percent, 1,200 jobs), El Centro, Calif. (48 percent, 1,000 jobs) and Weirton–Steubenville, W.V. –Ohio (29 percent, 400 jobs).


The largest job losses from February 2015 to February 2016 were in Fort Worth–Arlington, Texas (–4,100 jobs, –6 percent), followed by Cleveland–Elyria, Ohio (–3,200 jobs, –10 percent); Midland, Texas (–3,200 jobs, –12 percent) and Odessa, Texas (–3,000 jobs, –15 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Bloomington, Ill. (–16 percent, –400 jobs); Odessa; Greeley, Colo. (–14 percent, –2,600 jobs); Decatur, Ill. (–13 percent, –400 jobs) and Laredo, Texas (–13 percent, –600 jobs).


AGC officials said that it was unclear how many more jobs would have been added if it weren’t for the severe workforce shortages 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 remains relatively limited and localized, officials added.


“Considering the strong demand for construction 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, the association’s chief executive officer. “Assuming demand for construction continues to grow, most firms will have an even harder time finding, recruiting and preparing new workers.”

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