Private Sector Demand Helped Boost December Construction Employment

Construction employment increased in 139 out of 337 metropolitan areas between December 2011 and December 2012

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Construction employment increased in 139 out of 337 metropolitan areas between December 2011 and December 2012, declined in 131 and was stagnant in 65, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that growing private sector demand for new construction projects boosted employment in a slight plurality of metro areas.

“Private sector demand for energy, health care, higher education and residential construction is having a positive impact in a growing number of metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, construction employment in almost as many metro areas appears to be suffering from declining public sector demand and a private sector market that is still well-below peak levels.”

Metro areas adding construction jobs (highest percentage):

  • Pascagoula, Miss. (42 percent, 1,900 jobs)
  • Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H. (22 percent, 800 jobs)
  • Lafayette, La. (17 percent, 1,100 jobs)
  • Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa (16 percent, 3,000 jobs)

Metro areas adding construction jobs (most jobs added):

  • Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (17,600 jobs, 10 percent)
  • Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (8,300 jobs, 8 percent)
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (7,800 jobs, 12 percent)
  • Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass. (5,900 jobs, 12 percent)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (5,700 jobs, 5 percent)

Metro areas losing construction jobs (most jobs lost):

  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (-4,900 jobs, -5 percent)
  • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (-3,600 jobs, -7 percent)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-3,500 jobs, -7 percent)
  • Northern Virginia (-3,200 jobs, -5 percent)

Metro areas losing construction jobs (highest percentage):

  • Jackson, Miss. (-20 percent, -2,000 jobs)
  • Columbus, Ind. (-19 percent, -300 jobs)
  • Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-18 percent, -1,400 jobs)
  • Danville, Ill. (-13 percent, -100 jobs)

Association officials noted that construction employment is benefiting from growing demand for construction, driven primarily by the private sector. They added that the rebounding housing market and relatively strong demand for health care, energy and higher education facilities boosted construction spending levels by over 7 percent for the year through November. But they cautioned that construction spending was still more than $300 billion below peak levels amid declining public sector activity and weaker demand for office, retail and lodging.

“Contractors in some areas appear confident enough about market conditions to begin adding staff,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The question is whether private sector demand will continue to grow in 2013 or stall as it has done in prior years.”

View construction employment figures by state and rank.