Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. and Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio Top Growth List while Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas and Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. Experience the Largest Yearly Declines
Dec 3, 2015 -- Construction employment increased in 180 out of 358 metro areas, was unchanged in 46 and declined in 132 between October 2014 and October 2015, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials attributed the fact that over half of the nation's metro areas added construction jobs to growing demand for construction but cautioned that labor shortages could be impeding employment growth in parts of the country.
"Contractors are adding workers in many parts of the country again, which is consistent with the robust growth that is occurring in construction spending," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "But job gains would be even more widespread if contractors could find enough qualified experienced craft workers and supervisors as well as new entrants to the industry."
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (9,800 jobs, 13 percent) added the most construction jobs during the past year. Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs include Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (9,400 jobs, 8 percent), Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (9,400 jobs, 10 percent), and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (8,400 jobs, 19 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio (56 percent, 900 jobs); Wenatchee, Wash. (21 percent, 500 jobs); Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y. (19 percent, 4,400 jobs) and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise.
The largest job losses from October 2014 to October 2015 were in Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (-6,000 jobs, -8 percent), followed by Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, N.J. (-2,200 jobs, -7 percent); Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (-2,100 jobs, -5 percent), and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wisc. (-1,700 jobs, -2 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-19 percent, -400 jobs), followed by Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-17 percent, -1,500 jobs), Bloomington, Ind. (-15 percent, -400 jobs) Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Ky. (-15 percent, -300 jobs) and Terre Haute, Ind. (-15 percent, -700 jobs).
Association officials said it was likely more metro areas would have experienced increases in construction employment if it were easier for firms to find qualified workers. Yet few communities offer the kind of career and technical education programs, especially for high school students, which were once common throughout most of the country. That is one reason why the association's Workforce Development Plan urges Congress to provide adequate funding for more career and technical education.
"Too few schools offer programs to help students pursue high-paying careers in construction," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "More school systems need to recognize that construction offers rewarding opportunities for students who receive the right exposure and training."