Significant construction job losses in NYC area in last year, but some upstate communities fare much better: AGC

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While the last year has been dismal for construction employment in New York City’s metropolitan area, the story is much less negative upstate in Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.

Data from an by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America of government employment data released on Nov. 30 shows that NYC lost the most jobs in the nation in the year between October, 2020 and 2021 (5,500 or 3%) with Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties coming in second in absolute job losses (-3,600 jobs, -8%)

Conversely, Albany-Schenectady-Troy gained 9% or 1,800 jobs, ranking it 29th in the nation. Meanwhile, Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls gained 1,600 jobs and Rochester added 1,700, for a 7% and 8% gain respectively.

Overall, the state lost 10,900 construction jobs in the months between Oct., 2020 and Oct. 2021, a decrease of 3%.

Here is a detailed breakdown by community, including the number of jobs in Oct. 2020, 2021, the net change and the percentage ranking:

  • Statewide Construction 386,900 376,000 -10,900 -3%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 392,300 381,700 -10,600 -3%
  • Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 20,400 22,200 1,800 9% 29
  • Binghamton, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,300 4,400 100 2% 201
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 22,400 24,000 1,600 7% 63
  • Dutchess County-Putnam County, NY Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,200 8,200 0 0% 237
  • Elmira, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,500 1,500 0 0% 237
  • Glens Falls, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,600 2,700 100 4% 137
  • Ithaca, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,300 1,300 0 0% 237
  • Kingston, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,800 2,900 100 4% 137
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 78,900 72,200 -6,700 -8%
  • 349 New York City, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 145,400 141,200 -4,200 -3% 318
  • Orange-Rockland-Westchester, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 44,000 40,400 -3,600 -8% 349
  • Rochester, NY Construction 22,100 23,800 1,700 8% 38
  • Syracuse, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 13,400 13,100 -300 -2% 303
  • Utica-Rome, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,700 3,800 100 3% 168
  • Watertown-Fort Drum, NY Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,800 1,600 -200 -11% 356

Nationally, nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas added construction jobs between October 2020 and October 2021, AGC reports. Association officials noted that the job gains would likely have been larger and more widespread if firms weren’t dealing with the twin 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 percent of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. added the most construction jobs (6,800 jobs, 9 percent), followed by Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,600 jobs, 9 percent); Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (6,400 jobs, 9 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (5,500 jobs, 5 percent); and Pittsburgh, Pa. (5,200 jobs, 7 percent). Worcester, Mass. had the highest percentage increase (20 percent, 2,000 jobs), followed by Sioux Falls, S.D. (19 percent, 800 jobs); Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (19 percent, 3,200 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. (16 percent, 800 jobs) and Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (15 percent, 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 percent), followed by New York City (-5,500 jobs, -3 percent); Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties, N.Y. (-3,600 jobs, -8 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (-2,800 jobs, -2 percent) and Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s counties, Md. (-2,600 jobs, -8 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-17 percent, -1,700 jobs); Altoona, Pa. (-13 percent, -400 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-11 percent, -200 jobs); and Gary, Ind. (-10 percent, -1,700 jobs).

Association officials urged the Biden administration to continue working to reduce tariffs on key construction materials, and to 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.

“Firms are struggling to source materials for projects, coping with rising prices for those materials, all while eagerly searching for workers to put those materials in place,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We are eager to work with public officials to address supply chain challenges even as we work to recruit more people into high-paying construction careers.”

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