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Metro Construction Jobs Still Increasing

244 out of 358 metro areas saw growth in construction employment, though AGC still finds it difficult to fill specialized hourly craft workers.

Construction employment grew in 244, out of 358 metro areas (68%) between Sept. 2018 and Sept. 2019; declined in 61; and was unchanged in 53 metros, according to a new analysis of federal employment data recently released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, VA.

Association officials said despite the widespread job gains, the association’s recent survey found 80% of contractors say hourly craftworker positions remain difficult to fill. “Even though construction firms in over two-thirds of the nation’s metro areas were able to add employees in the last year, our survey suggests employers in still more locations would have done so if they could find more qualified workers to hire,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said in the press release. “Job openings at construction have been at record levels in recent months, showing that contractors are still eager to hire.”

The Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX, as metropolitan statistical area (MSA) added the most construction jobs during the past year (15,000 jobs, +10%). Other metro areas adding a large amount of construction jobs during the past 12 months include Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ (12,400 jobs, +10%); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA (10,700 jobs, +7%); Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (7,900 jobs, +4%); and Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY (7,500 jobs, +9%). The largest percentage gain occurred in Pocatello, ID (+17%, 300 jobs), followed by Omaha Council Bluffs, NE-IA (+16%, 4,900 jobs); Auburn-Opelika, AL (+15%, 400 jobs); and Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA (+15%, 2,300 jobs). Construction employment reached a new September high in 64 metro areas and a new September low in three areas.

The largest job losses between Sept. 2018 and Sept. 2019 occurred in New York City (-3,600 jobs, -2%), followed by Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC (-3,400 jobs, -5%); Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL (-3,100 jobs -2%); and Baton Rouge, LA (-2,300 jobs, -4%). The largest percentage decrease took place in Longview, TX (-11%, -1,600 jobs), followed by Fairbanks, AK (-9%, -300 jobs); Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS (-8%, -600 jobs); Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT (-8%, -1,600 jobs); and Evansville, IN (-8%, -800 jobs).

AGC officials said its member surveys reveal that many construction firms are boosting pay and benefits for their employees, investing in more training programs and adopting new technologies and new techniques to improve efficiency. However, AGC contractors are proposing longer construction schedules and charging more for projects because of labor shortages.

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