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How construction employment is faring in America’s cities

By |  October 2, 2020


Construction employment decreased in 241 of 358 (67 percent) metro areas between August 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new government data from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, urges Congress to pass new coronavirus relief measures as a means to boost employment.

“Although residential construction is picking up in many areas, public and nonresidential construction are shrinking,” Simonson says. “Project cancellations are spreading, and fewer new projects are starting up. That combination makes further employment declines inevitable unless the federal government steps up support for infrastructure.”

According to Simonson, construction employment was stagnant in 29 metro areas and increased in only 88 areas, or 25 percent, over the past year. Various metro areas experienced either all-time lows or record highs, with 19 experiencing lows and 33 experiencing highs, according to data going back to 1990.

Specific metros

The Houston metro area lost the most construction jobs over the past year, with a loss of 22,800 jobs (10 percent). New York City followed with a loss of 21,700 jobs (13 percent).

The metro area around Brockton, Massachusetts, had the largest percentage decline at 38 percent. Johnstown, Pennsylvania followed closely behind at 34 percent of its construction jobs lost.

As for the metro areas that gained jobs, the Indianapolis area added the most construction jobs in the past year with 4,800 jobs (9 percent), followed by Baltimore with 4,300 jobs (5 percent).

The Niles/Benton Harbor, Michigan area had the highest increase in percentage of jobs (16 percent). Fond du Lac and Walla Walla, Washington also had a high percentage of job increases at 15 percent each.

AGC officials call on Congress to pass new liability protections for firms that take steps to protect workers from the coronavirus. They also urge congressional leaders to boost investments in infrastructure and pass measures designed to preserve payrolls.

“The coronavirus and efforts to mitigate its spread have left our economy deeply wounded, depressing demand for many types of commercial construction projects,” says Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “Congress can end the downward economic slide and help create needed new construction jobs by passing measures to boost demand and protect honest employers.”

Sarah Peecher

About the Author:

Sarah Peecher is the Digital Media Content Producer for Pit & Quarry. Her experience includes content creation and strategy for both print and digital media, giving her the skills to share stories on websites and social media platforms.

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