Construction employment declined in 153 out of 337 metropolitan areas between September 2010 and September 2011, increased in 145 and stayed level in 39, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released recently by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials noted that declines in publicly funded construction projects continue to offset modest improvements in the private sector market.
"Despite the fact the industry added 26,000 new jobs in September, industry employment continues to fall in far too many metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction demand in many parts of the country seems to be ranging somewhere between tepid and non-existent.”
The largest job losses were in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (-7,800 jobs, -8%), followed by New York City (-5,800 jobs, -5%); Philadelphia (-4,100 jobs, -6%) and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area (-3,900 jobs, -4%). Logan, Utah (-22%, -700 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Redding, Calif. (-19%, -600 jobs); Montgomery, Ala. (-18%, -1,200 jobs) and Gadsden, Ala. (-14%, -200 jobs).
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, added more construction jobs (9,700 jobs, 6%) than any other metro area during the past year while Lake County-Kenosha County, Ill.-Wis., added the highest percentage (30%, 3,800 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area (4,900 jobs, 6%); Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area (4,300 jobs, 3%); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (3,700 jobs, 109%) and Columbus, Ohio (3,300 jobs, 11%).
Association officials said that in addition to passing long-delayed highway, transit and airport investment legislation, elected officials should act quickly to establish a self-funded Water Trust Fund to address an estimate $600 billion in clean water infrastructure needs during the next 20 years. They also called on the Senate and Obama administration to support legislation expected to pass in the House today repealing the 3% tax withholding mandate that a survey released last week found would devastate the construction industry.
“Instead of finding fiscally responsible ways to improve our aging infrastructure and keep our water clean, Washington is planning to force contractors working on public projects to give the government interest-free loans,” said the association’s chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr. “Unless Washington rethinks its priorities, even more metro areas are likely to lose construction jobs.”