ARLINGTON, VA. — Construction employment grew in 218 (61 per cent) of 358 U.S. metro areas between March 2018 and March 2019, declined in 83 areas (23 per cent) and was unchanged in 57 areas, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released May 1 by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Meanwhile, new federal data on construction spending showed mixed results, as a steep decline in single-family homebuilding in the U.S. offset increases in multifamily and nonresidential construction.
Association officials said in a statement the continuing demand for most construction underscores the need for federal enactment of immigration reforms to boost the supply of workers.
“Fewer metros than in recent months recorded construction employment gains over the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in the release.
“However, the ongoing increase in spending on most categories of construction suggests that the lack of job growth is more likely due to a scarcity of qualified workers rather than a slowing of demand. In fact, there was a record number of job openings in construction going into March.”
The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (13,800 jobs, 11 per cent).
Other metro areas adding large numbers of construction jobs during the past 12 months include Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,600 jobs, six per cent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (7,400 jobs, five per cent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6,600 jobs, 11 per cent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (6,400 jobs, 6 per cent).
The largest percentage gain occurred in Monroe, Mich. (26 per cent, 500 jobs), followed by Chico, Calif. (22 per cent, 800 jobs); St. Cloud, Minn. (18 per cent, 1,000 jobs); and Yuba City, Calif. (18 per cent, 400 jobs).
The largest job losses between March 2018 and March 2019 occurred in Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (minus 3,100 jobs, down three per cent), followed by Kansas City, Kans. (minus 2,000 jobs, down 10 per cent); and Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. (down 2,000 jobs, minus two per cent).
“Construction spending totaled $1.282 trillion in March, down 0.9 per cent from February and down 0.8 per cent from March 2018,” Simonson noted.
“However, the yearly decline was confined to single-family homebuilding, which fell by 8.4 per cent over 12 months. At the same time, new multifamily construction spending jumped by 11 per cent, private nonresidential spending increased by 2.1 per cent and public construction spending rose 8.6 per cent.
“The record 286,000 job openings at the end of February shows there were still plenty of projects needing workers in March.”