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Only Five U.S. Metro Areas Witness Construction Job Growth

November 30, 2009
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Only five out of 337 metropolitan areas saw an increase in construction employment between October 2008 and October 2009, according to a new study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 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, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America. “In many communities, construction employment isn’t just contracting, it is collapsing.”

Simonson noted that Reno-Sparks, NV, again had the largest percentage decline with a 32 percent drop in construction employment. Other cities with large percentage declines in construction employment included Kokomo, IN (31 percent); Redding, CA (30 percent); El Centro, CA (29 percent); and the Cleveland, OH area (28 percent).

Simonson added that the Phoenix metro area lost the most construction jobs (33,000); followed by Atlanta (24,700); and Las Vegas-Paradise, NV (24,500).

In comparison, only one community saw double-digit job gains. Columbus, IN, again led the nation in construction job growth with a 20 percent increase, totaling 400 added construction jobs. Four other cities saw increases in construction employment:
  • Anderson, IN (6 percent);
  • Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA (5 percent);
  • Tulsa, OK (3 percent); and
  • the Davenport, IA area (1 percent).

    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 over 10 percent of Americans, and 18.7 percent of construction workers, unemployed.

    Click here to view the data by state, and here to view the data ranked by percent change.

  • Source: Associated General Contractors of America

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