Construction Employment Slump Not Over Yet
Construction employment increased in 138 out of 337 metropolitan areas from last March. However, from March 2010 to March 2011, construction employment decreased in 153 and stayed level in 46 areas. The Associated General Contractor of America said that the construction industry’s five-year employment slump is far from over, and could worsen as public construction winds down.
“Even with more metro areas adding jobs than in any 12-month period since November 2007, the fact is most areas are far below previous construction employment peaks,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With federal stimulus, base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane-protection projects slated to end soon, many areas are at serious risk of another downturn in construction employment.”
There are some areas still experiencing growth, such as Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas which added 9,800 jobs during the past year. Bay City, Michigan added 25% of jobs since last March. The largest job losses were in Atlanta-Sandy Spring-Marietta, Georgia and New York City with a loss of 6,800 jobs. Although, private nonresidential and multifamily construction is improving, the upcoming drop in public construction is bound to overcome the gains. Also, material costs are rising, which could cause taxpayers to pay more for public construction.
“There is nothing fiscally responsible about buying high instead of buying low when it comes to infrastructure investments,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If public officials would cut red tape and costly regulations like they are cutting construction budgets, that would help boost private sector demand.”