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TX Wins, CA Loses in Mixed Job Picture

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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Private-sector construction has inched upward, only to be clobbered by declining public-sector activity, yielding patchy improvement on the nation’s construction job front, a new analysis shows.

Construction employment increased in 146 metropolitan areas between August 2010 and August 2011, declined in 145, and remained flat in 46, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released Monday (Sept. 26) by the Associated General Contractors of America.

 Stephen Sandherr


A one- to two-year moratorium on federal regulations would provide “breathing room” for American businesses that could boost employment, Associated General Contractors CEO Stephen Sandherr said at a July conference in Washington.

Houston, TX, and the Lake County-Kenosha County area of Illinois and Wisconsin topped the list of metro areas adding jobs, while California took a double hit: The Los Angeles area lost the most jobs, and Redding, CA, recorded the largest percentage decline.

Construction Employment ‘Stuck’

“The construction market is caught between increases in private-sector demand and even larger decreases in public-sector construction investments,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist.

Private-sector spending on construction grew by 5.5 percent in the 12-month period, while public-sector demand slid by 8.8 percent. “Construction employment continues to be stuck in a pattern where there are just as many hot spots as there are slow spots,” said Simonson.

The report includes construction employment figures by state and by rank.

Winners and Losers

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX, added more construction jobs (10,400 jobs; 6 percent) than any other metro area during the past year, while Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI, added the highest percentage (22 percent, 2,900 jobs).

Other areas adding a large number of jobs included the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area (7,100 jobs, 5 percent); Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI (3,800 jobs, 10 percent); Edison-New Brunswick, NJ (3,500 jobs, 9 percent) and the Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia area (3,400 jobs, 18 percent).

The largest job losses were in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area (-7,000 jobs, -7 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA (-5,500 jobs, -6 percent); Las Vegas-Paradise, NV (-4,400, -10 percent); Philadelphia (-3,800 jobs, -6 percent); and New York City (-3,400 jobs, -3 percent).

Redding, CA, lost the highest percentage (-19 percent, -600 jobs). Other steep declines were recorded in Wilmington, NC (-17 percent, -1,600 jobs); Montgomery, AL (-16 percent, -1,100 jobs) and Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach, FL (-16 percent, -800 jobs).

Infrastructure Bill Sought

AGC said in a statement that the federal government could best boost construction employment by passing long-term infrastructure bills and reconsidering “many of the costly regulatory obstacles that have been put in place.”

The association added: “[E]ven as highway and transit legislation has languished, state and local officials are being forced to spend billions of limited transportation funds on butterfly bridges and bat-safe highway lighting.”

Said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr: "It’s like we are trying to rebuild our economy with two hands tied behind our back. We’re penny-pinching on infrastructure, even as we allow entitlement spending to spiral out of control, while we are doing a lot of things to inflate the cost and delay the completion of infrastructure projects.”


Tagged categories: Construction; Economy; Government

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