Construction employment grew in 255, or 71 percent, out of 358 metro areas between July 2018 and July 2019, declined in 56 and was unchanged in 47, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said a newly released workforce survey they conducted with Autodesk showed the employment gains would likely have been even more widespread if firms could find more qualified workers to hire, and they urged federal officials to bolster career training programs.
“Demand for construction has not slackened in most metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, of the nearly 2,000 respondents to our survey, 91 percent said they expect their firm to hire hourly craft personnel in the next 12 months, either for expansion or replacement. But four out of five contractors reported having a hard time filling hourly craft positions.
“Worker shortages are pervasive across all regions and nearly all crafts,” Simonson added. “The survey asked firms about their experience this year in filling 20 different types of hourly craft positions. For all but one of these trades, at least half the respondents said filling the position is more difficult than a year ago. Firms in all four regions—Northeast, Midwest, South and West—reported widespread difficulty filling craft positions.”
The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (12,100 jobs, 8 percent), followed by Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (11,900 jobs, 9 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (23 percent, 3,500 jobs), followed by Auburn-Opelika, Ala. (19 percent, 500 jobs).
The largest job losses between July 2018 and July 2019 occurred in Baton Rouge, La. (-4,900 jobs, -9 percent), followed by Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C. (-3,100 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage decrease took place in Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-10 percent, -200 jobs).