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Construction employment increases over last year

Construction employment expanded in 197 metro areas between March 2014 and March 2014, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Employment declined in 87 areas and was stagnant in 55. Association officials noted that construction employment stands to suffer if Congress allows federal highway funding to stop this summer.

“Much of the country experienced relatively robust growth in construction employment during the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “But the fact construction employment remains below prior peak levels in most areas shows just how hard hit the industry was during the downturn and how vulnerable it is to disruptions, such as a potential lapse in federal highway funding.”

Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Glendale, CA, added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year with 10,000 jobs, followed by the areas of Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine, CA, with 9,100 jobs. The largest percentage gains occurred in Monroe, MI; El Centro, CA; and Pascagoula, MS.

The largest job losses from March 2013 to March 2014 were in Gary, IN; followed by the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD, areas.

Pascagoula, MS, experienced the largest percentage increase at 26% among the 27 metro areas that topped or matched their prior March construction employment highs. Baton Rouge, LA, added the most jobs since reaching its prior March peak in 2013.

Association officials said thousands of construction jobs could be at risk if Congress and the Obama administration allow billions in highway funding to come to a halt this summer when the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to reach a zero balance. The prospects are so daunting that thousands of highway workers have already contacted their members of Congress asking for help as part of a “Hardhats for Highways” campaign organized by a coalition of construction and labor groups.

“It would be an economic travesty to put thousands out of work and undermine the construction industry’s recovery because Washington officials don’t fix a problem they’ve known about for months,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “This isn’t the kind of summer break hard-working crafts men and women expect or deserve.”

To see construction employment figures by state, go here.

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