Construction employment increased in 141 out of 337 metropolitan areas between February 2010 and February 2011, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that the relatively positive figures were likely affected by significantly improved winter weather in February, combined with the benefits of ongoing stimulus and other temporary federal construction programs.
“With nearly half of all U.S. metro areas finally adding construction jobs, these numbers are welcome news,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But warm winter weather probably played a larger role in driving these numbers up than did any change in construction demand.”
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas added more construction jobs (7,500 jobs, 8 percent) than any other metro area during the past year while Battle Creek, Mich. added the highest percentage (27 percent, 300 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Northern Virginia (5,400 jobs, 9 percent); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich. (3,300 jobs, 12 percent); Philadelphia (3,200 jobs, 6 percent); and Richmond, Va. (2,700 jobs, 9 percent). Construction employment was unchanged in 49 metro areas.
Atlanta-Sandy Spring-Marietta, Ga. had the largest job loss (-9,400 jobs, -10 percent) of the 147 metro areas that lost construction jobs during the past 12 months. Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.Va. (-32 percent, -1,300 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment included New York City (-9,000 jobs, -8 percent); Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (-5,500 jobs, -12 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (-5,100 jobs, -5 percent); and San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas (-4,100 jobs, -9 percent).
Association officials noted that despite the generally positive outlook for construction employment in February, overall construction market conditions remain weak at best. They noted that construction spending hit an 11-year low as stimulus projects wind down and state, local and private demand for construction continue to shrink. They cautioned that without measures to boost private sector demand, repair aging infrastructure and cut red tape, it would be hard to see how the industry would continue to add jobs.
“Just because the weather was warmer doesn’t mean the construction market is heating up,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “As much as we hope to see even more construction jobs being created, the market’s momentum just doesn’t appear to be heading in the right direction, yet.”