Stimulus Accounts for Increase or Steadiness in Employment in Many Areas
December 2, 2010

Construction employment either increased or remained steady in one-third – 113 of 337 – of metropolitan areas between October 2009 and October 2010 according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said construction job gains are becoming more widespread thanks in large part to an increase in power, stimulus and other publicly-funded construction projects.

“It looks like the stimulus, military base realignment and power projects have put a halt to some of the dramatic construction job losses many metro areas have been experiencing,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But even as construction employment has stabilized in some areas, the fact remains that construction job losses are still far too numerous and widespread.”

Phoenix, Ariz., added more construction jobs (4,100 jobs, 5 percent) than any of the 67 metro areas to add jobs during the past year. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif., added the highest percentage (44 percent, 400 jobs). Other areas adding jobs included Kansas City, Kan. (1,700 jobs, 9 percent); Columbus, Ohio (1,700 jobs, 6 percent); Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. (1,500 jobs, 5 percent); and Greeley, Colo. (1,400 jobs, 16 percent). Construction employment was unchanged in 46 metro areas.

The Chicago area lost more construction jobs (-19,200 jobs, -14 percent) than any of the other 224 metro area where construction employment declined. Napa, Calif.(-1,100 jobs, -37 percent) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment included Las Vegas (-12,200 jobs, -21 percent); Los Angeles (8,600 jobs, -8 percent); Northern Virginia (-8,000 jobs, -12 percent); Philadelphia (-6,500 jobs, -10 percent); and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-6,500 jobs, -10 percent).

“We may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we know it is getting closer,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer. “Washington can help by putting in place consistent tax and investment policies that encourage greater private sector growth and promote stability within the hard-hit construction industry.”

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