Construction Employment Continues to Take a Hit

Construction Employment Continues to Take a Hit

Majority of U.S. metropolitan areas experienced double-digit declines in construction employment over the last year

After reporting that the construction workforce shrunk in every state of the union (plus the District of Columbia) between January 2009 and January 2010, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Va., recently revealed additional cause for concern. Based on analysis of the latest federal data, AGC reports that only 10 out of 337 metropolitan areas added construction jobs between February 2009 and 2010. Even worse, 230 metro areas experienced double-digit declines in construction employment while only two cities experienced a double-digit increase.

“In virtually every area, construction workers continued to suffer the brunt of the recession,” says Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Job losses in far too many cities were simply, and sadly, staggering.”

According to Simonson, Houston lost more construction jobs (25,500 or -13%) than any other metro area between February 2009 and 2010. Monroe, Mich. lost the highest percentage of construction jobs (-41% or 900 jobs). Other areas experiencing a high number of job losses include Chicago (-20%), Los Angeles (-19%), Las Vegas (-31%), and Phoenix (-20%). On the flip side, Eau Claire, Wis. added more jobs and a higher percent of jobs than any other city in America (600 or 29%). Other areas adding jobs include El Paso, Texas (3%); Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H. (9%); Syracuse, N.Y. (3%); and Lafayette, La. (3%).

Simonson noted that the industry continues to suffer from weak demand for new construction activity. Annual construction spending declined to an 8-yr low in February. He said that single-family homebuilding and the federal stimulus should help boost construction employment in a number of metro areas this spring, but high vacancy rates and shrinking state and local budgets will keep construction employment from rising in most areas.

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