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More metros lost than gained construction jobs in last 12 months

June 29, 2012
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Nonfarm payroll employment increased between May 2011 and May 2012 in 266 out of 372 metropolitan areas, decreased in 101, and was unchanged in five, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported June 27. An AGC analysis released June 26 showed construction employment increased in 126 out of 337 areas for which BLS provides construction data (including divisions of larger metros), declined in 164 and stayed stagnant in 47. (BLS does not seasonally adjust metro employment. The agency combines mining and logging with construction in most areas to avoid disclosing data about industries with few employers.)

Bakersfield-Delano, Calif., added the highest percentage (22%, 3,000 construction jobs), followed by Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. (20%, 8,000 construction jobs), Knoxville, Tenn. (19%, 3,100 combined jobs) and Fargo, N.D.-Minn. (18%, 1,200 combined jobs). Indianapolis-Carmel added the most construction jobs, followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (7,400 construction jobs, 9%); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (4,900 construction jobs, 16%); and Baton Rouge, La. (4,900 construction jobs, 13%).

Anchorage, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-28%, -2,700 construction jobs), followed by Monroe, Mich. (-24%, -500 combined jobs), Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-19%, -1,800 combined jobs) and Montgomery, Ala. (-18%, -1,200 combined jobs). The largest job losses were in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-7,100 construction jobs, -14%); Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-6,900 construction jobs, -6%); New York City (-5,100 combined jobs, -5%); St. Louis, Mo. (-4,900 combined jobs, -8%) and Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. (-4,700 combined jobs, -8%). Click here to view May metro employment tables

Earnings, union wage benefits

State personal income growth accelerated to 0.8% in the first quarter of 2012, from 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported June 27. Personal income rose in 47 states, led by North Dakota (2.3%), fell in Kansas (-0.1%) and Mississippi (-0.3%), and was unchanged in Oklahoma.

“Earnings [employee and proprietors’ income] increased in 16 of the 24 industries for which BEA prepares quarterly estimates, with the largest percentage increases in the accommodations industry (which grew 2.5%, up from 1.2% in the previous quarter) and the construction industry (which grew 2.1%, up from 1.0%),” the BEA reports. “In Texas, Iowa, Utah, Nebraska, West Virginia and North Dakota construction earnings grew 4.0% or more in the first quarter of 2012, substantially above the national average. Construction earnings have grown continuously but slowly for five consecutive quarters nationally.”

Construction union wage and benefits settlements “so far in 2012 average the following: first year - 2.3% ($1.15); second year - 2.6% ($1.42); and third year - 2.6% ($1.34),” the Construction Labor Research Council  reported. “The increases, as both percents and dollars, are generally slightly higher than last year at this time when the averages were 1.9% ($0.98) for the first year, 2.5% ($1.36) for the second year and 2.7% ($1.58) for the third year … Shorter contract terms have continued through the first half of 2012, with 42% of the settlements for just one year [vs. 45% in the first half of 2011] and … 47% for three or more years.”

Population, housing growth of metro areas

“The nation's largest cities are growing faster than the country as a whole, according to July 1, 2011, population estimates released by the Census Bureau,” USA Today reported June 28. “All but two (Baltimore and Detroit) of the 33 cities that have 500,000-plus people grew since 2010. Ten years earlier, six of the 30 cities with half a million or more were declining. Of the 100 most-populous cities, almost three-fourths are growing at or above the national average of 0.9% ... Growth slowed the most in the Sun Belt, especially in areas hard hit by the housing bust and foreclosures, [Brookings Institution demographer William] Frey says. They include places such as Henderson, Nev.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Fresno.

“Larger cities such as Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Washington, D.C., experienced a surge last year. ‘Some of these areas are holding on to (people) who normally would have gone to the suburbs in a better housing market,’ Frey says. ‘The question is whether this will continue when the suburban housing market improves.’”

Robert Lang, professor of urban affairs at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, “thinks it will but that suburbs also will grow again - especially those that offer urban conveniences such as mass transit and housing within walking distance of jobs and services. His analysis of 76 Sun Belt suburbs that boomed to populations of 100,000 or more in recent decades - what he calls ‘boomburbs’ - shows that those that have rail lines gained more people. The 43 with rail service, including Plano, Texas, and Tempe, Ariz., grew more than those without … Mass transit has spurred dense development around stations. ‘In the last decade, boomburbs grew one way: out,’ Lang says. ‘This decade, large suburban cities can grow up around station stops.’”

Census reported, “Among cities with populations of 100,000 or more [on July 1, 2011], New Orleans, still rebounding from the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, ranked first, growing by 4.9%,” followed by Round Rock, Texas, 4.8%. Seven other Texas cities ranked in the top 15. These shifts appear to favor multifamily, mixed-use and renovation construction over more land-intensive single-family and commercial construction.

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