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What the latest construction jobs numbers say

By |  December 27, 2021

AGCA

Construction employment increased in nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas between November 2020 and November 2021, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of new government employment data.

AGC officials say the job gains were welcome news for the industry, but they caution that it will be difficult for construction levels to return to pre-pandemic levels amid tight labor market conditions.

“It isn’t surprising that construction employment has picked up in most metros over the past year, given the strong economic rebound most of the country has experienced,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “But with record job openings in construction, it’s clear that even more metros should be in the plus column if contractors could find the workers they need and get materials delivered on schedule.”

Additional details

Construction employment increased in 237, or 66 percent, of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months, AGC says.

Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California, added the most construction jobs (7,300 jobs, up 10 percent), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington (7,000 jobs, up 7 percent); Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Illinois (6,500 jobs, up 5 percent); Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts (6,200 jobs, up 8 percent); and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin (6,100 jobs, up 7 percent).

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had the highest percentage increase at 19 percent (up 2,000 jobs). Sioux Falls was followed by three metros with 16 percent increases: Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (up 3,200 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey (up 800 jobs); and Waterbury, Connecticut (up 500 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 74 metros and was flat in 47. Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, lost the most jobs (6,300, down 8 percent), followed by Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties, New York (3,900 jobs, down 9 percent); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s counties, Maryland (2,700 jobs, down 8 percent); Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (2,600 jobs, down 1 percent); and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tennessee (2,600 jobs, down 5 percent).

The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Indiana-Kentucky (18 percent, down 1,800 jobs); Leominster-Gardner, Massachusetts (14 percent, down 300 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (11 percent, down 1,100 jobs); Altoona, Pennsylvania (10 percent, down 300 jobs); and Florence-Muscle Shoals, Alabama (10 percent, down 400 jobs).

Perspective

AGC officials say most construction firms report they are struggling to find enough qualified workers to hire. The officials call on the Biden administration to boost funding for career and technical education to expose more students to construction career opportunities. They note that federal officials put six dollars into collegiate education and preparation for every dollar they currently invest in career and technical education.

“The gap in federal funding for career and technical education is making it hard for sectors like construction, manufacturing and shipping to find workers interested in those career tracks,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “We are doing everything we can to recruit people into high-paying construction careers, but exposing more students to construction skills will certainly help.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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