Construction employment increased in 211 metro areas between November 2015 and November 2016, the lowest number of metro areas to add jobs in four years, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that contractors in many parts of the country continue to struggle with worker shortages and urged the incoming Trump administration to include workforce measures with its new infrastructure program.
“Considering that spending levels remain relatively robust for most market segments, firms in many parts of the country are likely having a hard time finding enough workers to hire,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “It appears that the industry would be employing more people if it could only find enough qualified people to hire.”
The report noted that Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, (9,600 jobs, 10 percent) and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, (9,600 jobs, 15 percent) added the most construction jobs during the past year, followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington, (8,100 jobs, 9 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada, (7,900 jobs, 15 percent) and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia, (6,600 jobs, 6 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Boise City, Idaho, (21 percent, 3,900 jobs), followed by El Centro, California, (17 percent, 500 jobs); Albany, Oregon, (16 percent, 400 jobs) and Weirton-Steubenville, West Virginia-Ohio (16 percent, 300 jobs).
Construction employment declined in 86 metro areas and held steady in another 61 during the past 12 months. The largest job losses from November 2015 to November 2016 were in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, (-12,700 jobs, -6 percent), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (-4,400 jobs, -3 percent) and Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-3,400 jobs, -8 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Casper, Wyoming, (-15 percent, -500 jobs); Danville, Illinois, (-14 percent, -100 jobs) and Wichita, Kansas, (-12 percent, -2,100 jobs).
Association officials said construction gains appear to be limited in many parts of the country by labor shortages. They urged the incoming Trump administration to include new workforce measures as part of their expected plan to improve aging infrastructure. Such measures should include boosting funding for the federal Perkins Act that finances high school level career and technical education programs, encouraging school officials to set provide construction-focused programs and making it easier for open-shop construction firms to set up apprenticeship training programs.
“The incoming administration has a unique opportunity to leverage its new infrastructure program to attract the next generation into high-paying construction careers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Putting new workforce development measures in place will make it easier for construction firms to keep pace with growing public- and private-sector demand.”