Engineered Systems Magazine

Construction employment increases in 220 metro areas over last year

May 30, 2014

Construction employment expanded in 220 metro areas, declined in 70, and was stagnant in 49 between April 2013 and April 2014, according to the AGC. The Associated General Contractors of America noted that federal spending cutbacks on government facilities and Hurricane Sandy reconstruction were contributing to job losses around Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

“Construction employment appears to be rebounding in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Declines in federal spending likely depressed construction employment near Washington, while of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may be having an impact on construction employment in metro areas in New Jersey.”

The areas of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Glendale, CA, added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (11,100 jobs, 10%); followed by the areas of Dallas, Plano, and Irving, TX (9,500 jobs, 9%); Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine, CA (8,500 jobs, 11%), and Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Marietta, GA (8,100 jobs, 9%). The largest percentage gains occurred in El Centro, CA, (42%, 800 jobs).

The largest job losses from April 2013 to April 2014 were in the area of Bethesda, Rockville, and Frederick, MD, (-3,700 jobs, -11%); followed by Gary, IN, (-2,900 jobs, -15%); Newark and Union, NJ, (-1,600 jobs, -5%) and the areas of Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic, NJ (-1,300 jobs, -5%). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in the area of Atlantic City and Hammonton, NJ, (-18%, -900 jobs).

Association officials noted signs that the federal government is again ready to invest in aging infrastructure should provide more stability for a construction industry that has yet to fully recover from its years-long downturn. Last week, the Water Resources Reform & Development Act, which provides funding for vital waterways, port, and flood control projects, passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. And a Senate committee recently backed new surface transportation legislation to fund highway, bridge, and transit improvements.

“After years of declining public sector demand for construction that has partly offset growing private sector demand, Washington officials seem open to investing in our aging infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Passing a new highway and transportation bill would certainly help boost construction employment in many parts of the country.”

View construction employment figures by state.