Construction employment decreased from February 2020 – the last month prior to the pandemic – to April 2021 in 107, or 30 percent, of the nation’s metro areas, and was stagnant in another 34, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data. Association officials said that construction employment in many parts of the country was being undermined by pandemic-induced project delays, materials price spikes and shortages, and difficulties finding labor.
“It is disturbing to see that nearly one-third of the nation’s metro areas had lower construction employment totals in the mild weather and strongly rebounding economy of April 2021 than in the winter of 2020,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Ever-growing supply-chain bottlenecks and record prices for numerous construction materials threaten to further chill demand for job gains in many metros.”
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost the largest number of construction jobs over the 14-month period (-29,300 jobs, -12 percent), followed by New York City (-22,300 jobs, -14 percent); Midland, Texas (-9,800 jobs, -26 percent); Odessa, Texas (-8,000 jobs, -39 percent); and Lake Charles, Louisiana (7,200 jobs, -36 percent). Odessa had the largest percentage decline, followed by Lake Charles; Midland; Laredo, Texas (-23 percent, -7,200 jobs) and Longview, Texas (-23 percent, -3,400 jobs).
Construction employment was stagnant in 34 additional metro areas, while 217 metro areas – 61 percent – added construction jobs over the pre-pandemic (February 2020) level. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana added the most construction jobs over 14 months (7,900 jobs, 15 percent), followed by Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Illinois (6,300 jobs, 5 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington (6,200 jobs, 6 percent); Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minneapolis-Wisconsin (5,900 jobs, 8 percent); and Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California (5,300 jobs, 8 percent).
Sierra Vista-Douglas, Arizona had the highest percentage increase (44 percent, 1,100 jobs), followed by Fargo, North Dakota-Minnesota (34 percent, 2,500 jobs); Lawrence-Methuen Town Salem, Massachusetts-New Hampshire (29 percent, 1,000 jobs); Bay City, Michigan (27 percent, 300 jobs) and Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, Massachusetts (22 percent, 700 jobs).