Nearly one-third of U.S. metro areas lost construction jobs between August 2020 and August 2021, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data. Association officials noted that the job losses are occurring as the fate of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would boost demand for construction remains uncertain in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“While construction activity has rebounded from pandemic lows in many metros, the recovery is fragile,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Extreme production and delivery delays, along with continuing high materials costs, may lead to project cancellations and postponements that cut into job gains.”
Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 65 metros and held steady in 37. New York City lost the most jobs (-8,600 jobs or -6%), followed by Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. (-5,100 jobs, -6%); Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (-3,200 jobs, -6%); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, Md. (-2,400 jobs, -7%) and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-2,300 jobs, -1%). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-14 %, -1,400 jobs); Tuscaloosa, Ala. (-12%, -800 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-11%, -200 jobs); Morristown, Tenn. (-10%, -200 jobs); Victoria, Texas (-9 %, -300 jobs) and Gadsden, Ala. (-9%, -100 jobs).
Construction employment increased in 256 out of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. added the most construction jobs (8,900 jobs, 11%; followed by Sacramento-Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. (8,600 jobs, 12%); Pittsburgh (7,200 jobs, 12%); Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,300 jobs, 9 %) and St. Louis (6,300 jobs, 9%). Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, Mass. had the highest percentage increase (26%, 900 jobs); followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (23%, 3,600 jobs); Bloomington, Ill. (17%, 500 jobs); and Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (16%, 500 jobs).
Association officials urged members of both parties in the House to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and cautioned that the industry was likely to lose more construction jobs without the measure.
“This is the kind of infrastructure bill that Democrats and Republicans have been promising to pass for years now,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Failing to pass this measure will create new challenges for the economy.”