NYC experiences greatest construction job loss in nation in 2021: AGC

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Some communities in New York fared well in terms of construction employment in the year between January 2021 and January 2022 but others suffered, especially New York City, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reports citing federal employment data.

NYC lost 8,100 jobs, or six percent of the construction labor force, representing the largest local market employment loss (in actual jobs) in the nation.

Conversely, other markets in the state fared better, such as Binghamton which recorded a 13 percent gain, or 400 jobs in the much smaller market.

Overall, there was a statewide loss of 2,000 construction jobs, the data shows, representing about 1 percent.  (The number may be a bit different and lower if mining and logging work is included, since these sectors are aggregated with construction in smaller markets.)

See detailed local breakdowns below. Data includes employment levels in January 2021, January 2022, the numerical change, percentage change, and national ranking.

  • Statewide Construction 351,300 349,300 -2,000 -1%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 355,800 354,300 -1,500 -0.4%
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy Mining, Logging, and Construction 17,800 18,100 300 2% 208
  • Binghamton Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,200 3,600 400 13% 15
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 17,600 19,300 1,700 10%
  • 37 Dutchess County-Putnam County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 7,800 7,600 -200 -3% 328
  • Elmira Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,200 1,200 0 0% 262
  • Glens Falls Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,300 2,500 200 9% 45
  • Ithaca Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,200 1,100 -100 -8% 354
  • Kingston Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,600 2,600 0 0% 262
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 73,100 75,600 2,500 3% 170
  • New York City Mining, Logging, and Construction 138,200 130,100 -8,100 -6% 350
  • Orange-Rockland-Westchester Mining, Logging, and Construction 40,800 40,000 -800 -2% 315
  • Rochester Construction 18,800 20,300 1,500 8% 57
  • Syracuse Mining, Logging, and Construction 11,400 12,000 600 5% 111
  • Utica-Rome Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,800 2,800 0 0% 262
  • Watertown-Fort Drum, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,400 1,500 100 7% 74

“Construction employment is now increasing in most areas after a rough first year of the pandemic,” said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “But contractors recently have had more unfilled positions at the end of each month than they have been able to fill.”

Job openings in construction totaled 384,000 at the end of January, an increase of 81,000 or nearly 27 percent from January 2021, according to the government’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. That figure exceeded the 259,000 employees that construction firms were able to hire in January, implying firms would have added over twice as many workers if they had been able to fill all openings, Simonson pointed out.

Construction employment rose in 261 or 73 percent of 358 metro areas in 2021. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the most construction jobs (10,300 jobs, 5 percent), followed by the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas metro division (7,600 jobs, 5 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,100 jobs, 6 percent); and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. division (4,700 jobs, 3 percent). Cheyenne, Wyo. had the highest percentage gain (47 percent, 1,400 jobs), followed by Lake Charles, La. (21 percent, 3,100 jobs); Weirton-Steubenville, W. Va.-Ohio (21 percent, 300 jobs); and Bloomington, Ill. (20 percent, 500 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 58 metros and was flat in 39. New York City lost the most jobs (-8,100 or -6 percent), followed by the Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif. division (-3,400 jobs, -5 percent) and Northern Virginia, Va. (-2,400 jobs, -3 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (-31 percent, -900 jobs); Danville, Ill. (-17 percent, -100 jobs); Tuscaloosa, Ala. (-9 percent, -600 jobs); and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif. (-9 percent, -900 jobs).

Association officials said firms would have likely added more workers during the past year if they could have found qualified candidates to hire. They urged federal, state and local officials to create more programs to expose learners and adults to construction skills and career opportunities to ensure more workers benefit from increasing federal infrastructure investments.

“Now that Washington is boosting infrastructure funding, public officials should take steps to encourage more people to pursue high-paying careers in construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “This industry has the capacity to put many more people into the American middle class.”

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