Construction Employment Up, but Could Be Better: AGC

Feb. 2, 2022

Construction employment increased in nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas in 2021, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Yet association officials noted that labor shortages likely kept many firms from adding even more workers.

“Construction employment topped year-earlier levels in almost two-thirds of metros for the past few months,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist, in a prepared statement. “But contractors in many areas say they would have hired even more workers if qualified candidates were available.”

Job openings in construction totaled 273,000 at the end of December, an increase of 62,000 or nearly 30 percent from December 2020, according to the government’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. That figure exceeded the 220,000 employees that construction firms were able to hire in December, implying firms would have added over twice as many workers if they had been able to fill all openings, Simonson said.

Construction employment rose in 231 of 358 metro areas (65 percent) in 2021. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, added the most construction jobs (8,800 jobs, up 4 percent); followed by Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Illinois, (6,500 jobs, 5 percent); and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California, (6,300 jobs, 4 percent). Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had the highest percentage gain (24 percent, 2,100 jobs); followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (18 percent, 3,000 jobs); and Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey (18 percent, 900 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 76 metros and was flat in 51. Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, lost the most jobs (-5,700 or -7 percent); followed by New York City (-4,200 jobs, -3 percent); and Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland (-3,800 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Indiana-Kentucky (-18 percent, -1,700 jobs); Napa, Calififornia (-15 percent, -600 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (-14 percent, -1,400 jobs); and Lewiston, Idaho-Washington (-13 percent, -200 jobs). Seven areas set all-time lows for December, and 57 metros reached new December highs for construction jobs.

Source: AGC