Construction employment increased in 211 of 339 metro areas between November 2012 and November 2013, according to analysis of federal data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Employment in the sector decreased in 67 areas and was stagnant in 61.
AGC officials said the employment gains were encouraging, but cautioned that future gains were dependent on continued economic growth and new investments in aging domestic infrastructure.
“Construction employment continued to expand in many parts of the country in November, but most areas have a long way to go before reaching prior peak levels,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO. “It will take many more months of strong economic growth and new investments in public infrastructure before many places experience construction employment levels close to their prior peaks.”
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (10,500 jobs, 12 percent), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (9,100 jobs, 8 percent), Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. (8,200 jobs, 11 percent) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (6,400 jobs, 12 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (29 percent, 500 jobs), Eau Claire, Wis. (27 percent, 800 jobs), Fargo, N.D. (24 percent, 1,900 jobs) and Pascagoula, Miss. (24 percent, 1,100 jobs).
The largest job losses from November 2012 to November 2013 were in Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky. (-4,000 jobs, -10 percent); followed by Raleigh-Cary, N.C. (-3,100 jobs, -10 percent), Baton Rouge, La. (-2,800 jobs, -6 percent) and Gary, Ind. (-2,300 jobs, -11 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Modesto, Calif. (-24 percent, -1,500 jobs), Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. (-14 percent, -300 jobs), Anniston-Oxford, Ala. (-11 percent, -100 jobs), Gary, Ind. and Mobile, Ala. (-11 percent, -1,300 jobs).
Fargo, N.D.-Minn. experienced the largest percentage increase (24 percent) among the 19 cities that hit a new November construction employment high. Corpus Christi, Texas added the most jobs since reaching its prior November peak in 2012 (3,800 jobs). Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, November 2006, peak (-82,000 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its November 2005 peak (-76 percent).
AGC officials said that the fact Congress was able to reach a budget deal late in 2013 was a sign that elected officials can work together to protect economic growth. The challenge now is finding a way to finance needed investments in aging roads, bridges, clean water systems and other infrastructure systems, they added.
“Congress and the administration need to continue working together to find a way to boost economic growth and rebuild our aging infrastructure,” Sandherr said. "Only by working together will Washington officials be able to help our economy grow and construction employment expand in 2014."