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Construction employment increased in 158 out of 339 metropolitan areas between February 2012 and February 2013, declined in 132 and was stagnant in 49, according to a new analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the industry's recovery could prove fleeting if public construction spending continues to decline and say a reported immigration reform deal could undermine efforts to recruit skilled workers.
Association officials noted that the rebound in construction employment in many parts of the country is taking place despite a 17 percent decline in public sector construction spending during the past four years. They added that additional cuts, including $4 billion in construction cuts from the federal sequester, would have a significant impact, especially on firms that specialize in public sector work. They also said reports of an immigration reform proposal that includes severe limits on skilled construction workers would make it hard for recovering firms to find enough skilled workers.
“Between the dismantling of skills-based, vocational, education programs, the aging of the current workforce and years of bad economic news that have discouraged potential entrants from considering careers in construction, the pool of available skilled workers is relatively small,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It is critical for comprehensive immigration reform to include reasonable options to recruit temporary guest workers when domestic sources are exhausted.”