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AGC: Construction jobs up in most metro areas

By |  March 17, 2022

AGC

Construction employment increased in nearly 75 percent of U.S. metro areas in January compared to a year ago, according to an analysis of new government employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) .

Association officials welcome the widespread job gains but caution that contractors in many areas are having trouble finding enough qualified workers to return to pre-pandemic levels amid tight labor market conditions.

“Construction employment is now increasing in most areas after a rough first year of the pandemic,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “But contractors recently have had more unfilled positions at the end of each month than they have been able to fill.”

Job openings in construction totaled 384,000 at the end of January, an increase of 81,000 or nearly 27 percent from January 2021, according to the government’s latest Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey. That figure exceeded the 259,000 employees that construction firms were able to hire in January, implying firms would have added more than twice as many workers if they had been able to fill all openings, Simonson says.

Construction employment rose in 261 of 358 metro areas in 2021.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, added the most construction jobs last year (10,300 jobs, up 5 percent), followed by the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, metro division (7,600 jobs, up 5 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia, (7,100 jobs, up 6 percent); and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California, division (4,700 jobs, up 3 percent).

Cheyenne, Wyoming, had the highest percentage gain in 2021 (1,400 jobs, up 47 percent), followed by Lake Charles, Louisiana, (3,100 jobs, up 21 percent); Weirton-Steubenville, West Virginia-Ohio, (300 jobs, up 21 percent); and Bloomington, Illinois (500 jobs, up 20 percent).

Construction employment declined from a year ago in 58 metros and was flat in 39, AGC says. New York City lost the most jobs (8,100, down 6 percent), followed by the Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, California, division (3,400 jobs, down 5 percent) and northern Virginia (2,400 jobs, down 3 percent).

The largest percentage declines last year were in Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona, (900 jobs, down 31 percent); Danville, Illinois, (100 jobs, down 17 percent); Tuscaloosa, Alabama, (600 jobs, down 9 percent); and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California (900 jobs, down 9 percent).

AGC officials say firms would have likely added more workers during the past year if they could have found qualified candidates to hire. Officials urge federal, state and local officials to create more programs to expose learners and adults to construction skills and career opportunities to ensure more workers benefit from increasing federal infrastructure investments.

“Now that Washington is boosting infrastructure funding, public officials should take steps to encourage more people to pursue high-paying careers in construction,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “This industry has the capacity to put many more people into the American middle class.”

Jack Kopanski

About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor of Pit & Quarry and Editor-in-Chief of Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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