Construction Employment Declines in 324 out
of 337 Cities; Construction Spending Hits 6-Year Low
January 5, 2010
Construction employment declined in 324 out of 337 metropolitan
areas over the past year as spending on construction projects dropped
by over $137 billion in November to a 6-year low of $900 billion,
according to a new analysis of federal figures released by the Associated
General Contractors of America.
"Private nonresidential construction is in freefall, with
every category except private power construction down sharply compared
to a year ago," says Ken Simonson, the association's chief
economist. "Those cuts are causing layoffs in virtually every
part of the country for tens of thousands of skilled construction
Simonson says new Census Bureau figures show developer-financed
construction suffered the largest decline in spending between November
2008 and November 2009. He adds that private lodging investments
were down 46 percent; retail, warehouse and farm spending were down
41 percent and private office construction investments were down
39 percent. A recovery in homebuilding may spark some improvement
in retail construction later this year, and higher education and
hospital construction may come back in the second half of 2010,
Simonson notes that public construction benefitted from federal
stimulus funds, with a year-over-year increase of 2.7 percent. He
predicts, however, those gains will continue to be tempered by sharp
cutbacks in projects funded directly by states, local governments
and school systems.
According to Simonson, the declines in investments were leading
to sweeping industry layoffs. El Centro, Calif., lost a larger percentage
of its construction work force (36 percent) from November 2008 to
November 2009 than any other metropolitan area according, to the
latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. The agency includes mining
and logging with construction in most metro areas to prevent disclosure
about industries with few employees, Simonson notes.
Other areas experiencing sharp declines in construction employment
during the year include Kokomo, Ind. (31 percent); Wenatchee-East
Wenatchee, Wash. and Reno, Nev. (both 28 percent); and St. George,
Utah and Grand Junction, Colo. (both 27 percent).
Of the six metropolitan areas with an increase in construction
employment during the past 12 months, only two areas had gains of
more than 100 jobs: Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. (1,500 jobs, 12 percent
gain) and Tulsa, Okla. (700 jobs, 3 percent gain.) Four metro areas
had gains of 100 jobs each in construction: Anderson, Ind. (6 percent);
Columbus, Ind. (5 percent); Bismarck, N.D. (3 percent) and Fargo,
N.D., including nearby areas in Minnesota (1 percent).
HERE to view the latest construction spending figures.
HERE to view latest metropolitan area construction employment
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