Construction employment declined in 236 out of 337 metropolitan areas between September 2009 and September 2010 according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Meanwhile, the number of metro areas adding jobs – 56 – matched the previous month’s data, indicating the sector remains weak more than a year after the official end of the recession, association officials noted.
“The recession may have ended for the overall economy, but not for construction in most metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Despite tremendous short-term help from the stimulus, this industry is a long way from experiencing a recovery.”
The Chicago area lost more construction jobs (-20,500 jobs, -15 percent) than any other metro area. Napa, California (-1,000 jobs, -33 percent) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment included Las Vegas (-13,000 jobs, -22 percent); Los Angeles (-9,700 jobs, -9 percent); Houston (-9,100 jobs, -5 percent); Seattle (-8,500 jobs, -11 percent); and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-7,800 jobs, -12 percent).
Columbus, Ohio added more construction jobs (2,200 jobs, 7 percent) than any other metro area while Hanford-Corcoran, California added the highest percentage (33 percent, 300 jobs). Other areas adding jobs included Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1,900 jobs, 3 percent); Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Maryland (1,600 jobs, 5 percent); Kansas City, Kansas (1,500 jobs, 8 percent); and Lawton, Oklahoma (300 jobs, 18 percent). Simonson added that construction employment was unchanged for the year in another 45 areas.
While the stimulus and other temporary federal construction spending have helped offset some construction employment declines, other measures are still needed to boost construction demand, association officials noted. They cautioned that Congress and the Administration have yet to act on several key measures in the association’s construction recovery plan, including passing multi-year water, transportation and energy investment bills and making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent.
“Washington’s failure to pass long-delayed infrastructure bills, set annual tax rates or address costly red tape and regulations is undermining any benefits that came from the stimulus,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Our worry is that Washington’s failures will make a bad construction employment situation even worse.”
View construction employment figures by metro area or by rank. View updated state-by-state fact sheets about the current state of the construction market.
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