Two-Thirds of Metro Areas Add Construction Jobs, but Pandemic and Supply Chain Woes may Limit Gains

Nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas added construction jobs between October 2020 and October 2021, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data. Association officials noted the job gains would likely have been larger and more widespread if firms weren’t dealing with the simultaneous challenges of supply chain problems and labor shortages.

“While it is heartening that construction is recovering from the lows of 2020 in much of the country, the pandemic is still causing major supply-chain problems and is keeping some workers from seeking employment,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Those impediments threaten to limit construction employment gains in many metros.”

Construction employment increased in 236 or 66% of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif., added the most construction jobs (6,800 jobs, 9%), followed by Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,600 jobs, 9%); Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (6,400 jobs, 9%); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (5,500 jobs, 5%); and Pittsburgh, Pa. (5,200 jobs, 7%). Worcester, Mass., had the highest percentage increase (20%, 2,000 jobs), followed by Sioux Falls, S.D. (19%, 800 jobs); Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (19%, 3,200 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J.  (16%, 800 jobs) and Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (15%, 500 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 72 metros and held steady in 50. Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. lost the most jobs (-6,700 or -8%), followed by New York City (-5,500 jobs, -3%); Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties, N.Y. (-3,600 jobs, -8%); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (-2,800 jobs, -2%) and Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s counties, Md. (-2,600 jobs, -8%). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-17%, -1,700 jobs); Altoona, Pa. (-13%, -400 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-11%, -200 jobs); and Gary, Ind. (-10%, -1,700 jobs).

Association officials urged the Biden administration to continue reducing tariffs on key construction materials and take additional steps to ease supply chain problems at ports and other shipping facilities. They added that the association was working to recruit more people into the construction industry, and the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill should send a positive message to many workers about the expanding career opportunities in construction.

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