Only five out of 337 metropolitan areas saw an increase in construction employment between October 2008 and October 2009, according to a new analysis of metropolitan area employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Meanwhile, construction employment nationally tumbled by 1.1 million jobs over the past 12 months alone, with 328 metro areas reporting losses. Construction employment was unchanged in four metros.
“Imagine if the entire population of greater Salt Lake City lost their jobs, because that’s basically what has happened to construction employment in America’s largest communities,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In many communities, construction employment isn’t just contracting, it is collapsing.”
Simonson noted that Reno-Sparks, Nev., again had the largest percentage decline with a 32% drop in construction employment. Other cities with large percentage declines in construction employment included Kokomo, Ind. (31%); Redding, Calif. (30%); El Centro, Calif. (29%); and the Cleveland area (28%). Simonson added that the Phoenix metro area lost the most construction jobs (33,000), followed by Atlanta (24,700); and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (24,500).
In comparison, only one community saw double-digit job gains: Columbus, Ind., again led the nation in construction job growth with a 20% increase, totaling 400 added construction jobs. Four other cities saw increases in construction employment: Anderson, Ind. (6%); Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. (5%); Tulsa, Okla. (3%); and the Davenport, Iowa, area (1%). Those five communities combined added only 1,900 construction jobs over the past 12 months.
“Getting construction workers back on the job will provide a significant economic boost to virtually every community in America,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The lesson for Washington ought to be clear: We should be building our way out of the country’s current bleak employment picture.”
Sandherr urged Congress and the Administration to include new construction and infrastructure investments as the core component of any new measures designed to address an employment market that has left more than 10% of Americans and 18.7% of construction workers unemployed.
Source: Associated General Contractors of America