New York Construction Report staff writer
Construction employment jumped in 268 of 358 metro areas in November and contractors continue to report that demand for new projects is outpacing availability of workers in many parts of the country, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.
However, one of the largest losses occurred in Camden, N.J. with 1,700 jobs lost, a 7 percent drop. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford in Florida led the losses with -8,500 jobs, -10 percent, followed by Richmond, Va. (-3,300 jobs, -8 percent); and Austin-Round Rock, Texas (-1,400 jobs, -2 percent). The largest percentage declines occurred in Orlando.
“Contractors report they are passing on projects because they do not have enough people to do the work,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Labor shortages are suppressing job gains in the construction industry in many parts of the country.”
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the most construction jobs (18,500 jobs or 9 percent), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (13,500 jobs, 9 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (10,400 jobs, 10 percent) and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (9,400 jobs, 7 percent).
The largest percentage gains were in Provo-Orem, Utah (23 percent, 6,400 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (15 percent, 1,400 jobs), Kankakee, Ill. (15 percent, 200 jobs), Grants Pass, Ore. (15 percent, 200 jobs) and Providence-Warwick, R.I. (15 percent, 4,000 jobs).
Association officials said that demand for construction remained relatively strong in many parts of the country, buoyed by robust public construction and infrastructure investments and strength in certain types of private sector development. They cautioned, however, that contractors in parts of the country report they are not bidding on projects because they do not have enough personnel to perform the work.
AGC is urging Congress to pass immigration reform to allow more construction workers to enter the country. They also pushed for greater investments in construction-focused training and education programs.
“We are working hard to recruit and retain a new generation of construction professionals,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Public officials can help put more people into high-paying construction careers by making common sense immigration reforms and investing in domestic construction prep programs as well.”