Construction employment increased in fewer than half of the nation’s metro areas between July 2014 and July 2015, the weakest expansion since late 2011, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
AGC officials noted that the new jobs data comes while a series of vital federal infrastructure funding measures, notably the surface transportation program, languish unfinished in Congress. “Although construction employment and spending are still expanding well overall, the gains are increasingly spotty,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Uncertainty over funding for transportation infrastructure, a contraction in oil and gas drilling, and turmoil in international markets have left many local construction markets behind even as others grow strongly.”
Simonson noted that, of the 358 metro areas for which the Labor Department provides construction employment data, only 168 (47 percent) experienced an increase in construction employment from July 2014 to July 2015. Construction employment declined in 138 metro areas (39 percent) and was level in 52 metros (15 percent). Nationally, construction employment increased by 231,000 (3.8 percent) over the past 12 months.
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash., added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (+10,300 jobs, +13 percent), followed by Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (+9,100 jobs, +20 percent), Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (+8,900 jobs, +10 percent) and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (+8,500 jobs, +7 percent).
The largest percentage gains occurred in El Centro, Calif. (+28 percent, +500 jobs), Weirton-Steubenville, W.V.-Ohio (+28 percent, +500 jobs), Wenatchee, Wash. (+23 percent, +500 jobs) and Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich.
The largest job losses from July 2014 to July 2015 were in Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (-3,300 jobs, -4 percent), followed by New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-2,700 jobs, -9 percent), Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-2,100 jobs, -23 percent), Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, N.J. (-1,900 jobs, -6 percent) and Akron, Ohio (-1,800 jobs, -13 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula followed by Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, Mass.-N.H. (-16 percent, -400 jobs), Bloomington, Ind. (-15 percent, -400 jobs) and Santa Fe, N.M. (-15 percent, -400 jobs).