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Minor Gains, Scarce Growth For Construction Jobs in August

While employment in the construction industry expanded in more than half of all metropolitan areas in August, less than 10 percent of the areas measured reached peak employment for the month. Industry uncertainty over federal funding, fueled by the recent government shutdown, could further slow construction growth.

Construction employment expanded in 194 metro areas, declined in 88 and was stagnant in 57 between August 2012 and August 2013, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Despite the widespread gains, construction employment reached peak levels for August in only 19 of 339 metro areas.

"It has been a tough decade for much of the construction industry, considering that many areas experienced peak employment levels in the middle of the last decade," said Stephen Sandherr, the AGC's chief executive officer. "More troubling, it will take a lot more growth before significantly more metro areas get back to peak employment levels in construction."

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year, followed by Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass., Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. The largest percentage gains occurred in Pascagoula, Miss.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Fargo, N.D.-Minn.; and Lake Charles, La.

Fargo, N.D.-Minn., experienced the largest percentage increase among the 19 cities that hit a new construction employment high in August from the prior peak in 2008 (22 percent higher). Corpus Christi, Texas, added the most jobs since reaching its prior August peak in 2012 (3,600 jobs).

AGC officials said construction employment in many areas was getting a boost from growing private sector demand for new residential and energy facilities. Declining investments in infrastructure and other public projects is restraining growth, however, and contributing to declining sector employment in some areas. "Instead of feast or famine, conditions right now are more akin to moderate snacking or famine depending on the type of work firms perform," Sandherr said.

The largest job losses as a percentage of the construction workforce from August 2012 to August 2013 were in the Sacramento, Calif., metropolitan area; followed by Gary, Ind.; Riverside, Calif., and surrounding locales; and Northern Virginia. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale experienced the largest drop in total construction employment compared to its prior, August 2006, peak (-86,800 jobs) while Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Ariz. experienced the largest percentage decline compared to its August 2005 peak (-74 percent).

View construction employment figures by state here.

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November 22, 2019, 12:01 pm PDT

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