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Tue, 07/02/2024 – 11:44

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas and Fairbanks, Alaska Top Lists of Year-over-Year Job Gains, While Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. and Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. Experience Worst Job Losses

Construction employment increased in 225, or 63 percent, of 358 metro areas between May 2023 and May 2024, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials noted that employment levels in some parts of the country have been impacted by changing demand for construction and ongoing labor shortages.

“A pullback in starts by developers of apartments, warehouses, and offices, along with spotty improvement in single-family starts, has held down job gains in some metros,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But surging demand for data centers, manufacturing and power projects, and infrastructure mean contractors in many metros are still short of all the workers they need.”

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the most construction jobs (8,400 jobs or 4 percent) between May 2023 and May 2024, followed by Baton Rouge, La. (8,200 jobs, 18 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6,900 jobs, 8 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (6,000 jobs, 4 percent); and Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (5,200 jobs, 9 percent). The largest percentage gain—23 percent—occurred in Fairbanks, Alaska, which added 600 jobs. The pickup in Fairbanks was followed by two areas with 20 percent increases: Anchorage, Alaska (2,200 jobs); and Lawton, Okla. (300 jobs).

Construction employment declined over the year in 83 metro areas and was unchanged in 50 areas. The largest job loss occurred in Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (-4,400 jobs, -4 percent), followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (-3,800 jobs, -4 percent); New York City (-3,800 jobs, -3 percent); Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (-3,500 jobs, -4 percent); and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore. -Wash. (-2,700 jobs, -3 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. (-12 percent, -1,900 jobs), followed by Duluth, Minn.-Wis. (-11 percent, -1,100 jobs); Decatur, Ill (-9 percent, -300 jobs); Ithaca, N.Y. (-8 percent, -100 jobs); and Bellingham, Wash. (-8 percent, -700 jobs).

Association officials urged federal officials to reconsider the current approach to regulatory measures including Buy America that are limiting the benefits of new infrastructure investments. And they continue to call for a rebalance in federal education funding for workforce development compared to four-year degree programs. They noted the current ratio heavily favors degree programs that fewer than 40 percent of Americans complete.

“Most construction career tracks, and many other jobs in our economy, require specialized skills taught via workforce programs, instead of more traditional four-year degrees,” said Jeffrey D. Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “Yet federal officials continue to invest in those degree programs on a four to one ratio compared to the workforce development programs our economy needs.”

View the metro employment datarank, and top 10.