Construction employment declines in 153 out of 358 metro areas between August 2014 and 2015
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. and Weirton-Steubenville, W.V.-Ohio Top Growth List
Construction employment declined in 153 out of 358 metro areas between August 2014 and August 2015, nearly matching the 163 areas that added construction jobs, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the number of metro areas losing construction jobs is on the rise amid growing uncertainty about federal funding for construction programs and growing shortages of qualified construction workers.
"The fact that fewer than half of metro areas added construction jobs at a time when there were gains in nearly three-fourths of the states suggests that contractors in many more metros would be hiring if they could find qualified workers," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "In addition, the steep downturn in oil and gas drilling has hit construction hard in cities such as Fort Worth, Houston and New Orleans, even as downstream projects gain steam in places such as Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas"
The largest job losses from August 2014 to August 2015 were in Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (-6,000 jobs, -8 percent), followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-3,700 jobs, -2 percent), Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, N.J. (-1,900 jobs, -6 percent) Akron, Ohio (-1,800 jobs, -13 percent) and New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-1,800 jobs, -6 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Santa Fa, N.M. (-22 percent, -600 jobs), followed by Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-20 percent, -1,700 jobs), Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, Mass.-N.H. (-20 percent, -500 jobs) and Las Cruces, N.M. (-19 percent, -700 jobs).
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (10,400 jobs, 11 percent) added the most construction jobs during the past year. Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs included Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (8,700 jobs, 11 percent), Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. (7,500 jobs, 9 percent) and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,300 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Weirton-Steubenville, W.V.-Ohio (28 percent, 500 jobs), Fairbanks, Alaska (22 percent, 700 jobs), Wenatchee, Wash. (17 percent, 400 jobs) and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (16 percent, 3,100 jobs). Construction employment was unchanged in 42 metro areas.
Association officials noted that the number of metro areas experiencing construction employment declines has begun growing as Congress has failed to pass a long-term surface transportation bill and fears grow about a potential federal shutdown. This uncertainty is hurting demand for contractors who work on federal and federally-funded projects. Meanwhile, contractors working in in-demand areas like warehouse construction are having a hard time finding qualified workers, likely contributing to hiring slowdowns.
"Depending on the type of work they perform, contractors either can't find enough work for their people, or can't hire enough workers for their projects," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Congress can help boost construction employment by passing measures to invest in aging infrastructure and supporting new investments in career and technical education programs to train future workers."