Construction employment grew in 218, or 61 percent, out of 358 metro areas between March 2018 and March 2019, declined in 83 (23 percent) and was unchanged in 57, according to a new analysis of federal employment data from the Associated General Contractors of America.
Meanwhile, new federal data on construction spending showed mixed results, as a steep decline in single-family homebuilding offset increases in multifamily and nonresidential construction. Association officials said the continuing demand for most construction underscores the need for federal enactment of immigration reforms to boost the supply of workers.
The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (13,800 jobs, 11 percent). Other metro areas adding large numbers of construction jobs during the past 12 months include Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,600 jobs, 6 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (7,400 jobs, 5 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6,600 jobs, 11 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (6,400 jobs, 6 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Monroe, Mich. (26 percent, 500 jobs), followed by Chico, Calif. (22 percent, 800 jobs); St. Cloud, Minn. (18 percent, 1,000 jobs); and Yuba City, Calif. (18 percent, 400 jobs).
The largest job losses between March 2018 and March 2019 occurred in Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (-3,100 jobs, -3 percent), followed by Kansas City, Kans. (-2,000 jobs, -10 percent); Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. (-2,000 jobs, -2 percent); and Baton Rouge, La. (-1,800 jobs, -3 percent). The largest percentage decrease took place in Danville, Ill. (-20 percent, -100 jobs), followed by Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich. (-19 percent, -500 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. (-17 percent, -1,000 jobs); and Battle Creek, Mich. (-13 percent, -200 jobs).
Association officials said that federal officials can help ensure more metro areas have enough trained workers to carry out needed construction by providing a way for contractors to bring qualified guest workers into the country, coupled with strict safeguards for American jobs and reduced incentives for individuals to enter the country illegally. They urged Congress and the president to enact legislation such as the recently introduced Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act.