Construction employment expanded in 247 metro areas, declined in 56 and was stagnant in 55 between January 2014 and January 2015, according to a new analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said they were also launching a new effort, called #DriveBetterRoads designed to get Congress and the administration to finance and pass a long-term highway and transit measure.
"The picture is very positive overall, with more than two-thirds of metro areas recording increases in construction employment over the past 12 months," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "However, the gains remain spotty–several states have metros at both extremes of jobs added and lost. The market is likely to remain turbulent, as the drop in oil prices creates a different set of winners and losers from what existed a year ago."
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (14,100 jobs, 7 percent), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX (11,200 jobs, 10 percent), Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (10,300 jobs, 12 percent) and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (10,200 jobs, 14 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Lafayette-West Lafayette, ID (28 percent, 700 jobs), Bend-Redmond, OR (26 percent, 1,000 jobs), Lake Charles, LA (26 percent, 3,300 jobs) and Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX (25 percent, 4,300 jobs).
The largest job losses from January 2014 to January 2015 were in St. Louis, MO-IL (-3,900 jobs, -7 percent), followed by Cleveland-Elyria, OH (-3,000 jobs, -10 percent), New Orleans-Metairie, LA (-2,200 jobs, -7 percent), and Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS (-2,100 jobs, -21 percent). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS followed by Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH (-19 percent, -400 jobs), Bloomington, IL (-17 percent, -400 jobs), Santa Fe, NM (-15 percent, -400 jobs) and Sherman-Denison, TX (-15 percent, -500 jobs).
Association officials cautioned that gridlock in Washington threatens future federal funding for highway, bridge and transit repairs and could undermine future construction employment growth.