Construction employment continued to shrink in most American communities as 313 out of 337 metro areas lost construction jobs between January 2009 and January 2010 according to a new analysis of federal employment figures by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The figures underscore just how hard hit the construction industry has been nationwide, association officials noted.
"It's difficult to imagine that many regions will bounce back when so many construction workers are unemployed," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Worse, with virtually every city suffering significant construction job losses, there's nowhere to hide from what is clearly a construction depression."
Simonson noted that Phoenix again lost more construction jobs (27,600) than any other city in America. Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, W.Va., experienced the largest percentage decline in construction employment (44%, 1,600 jobs), followed by Grand Junction, Colo., (34%, 3,400 jobs); Las Vegas (32%, 24,500 jobs); Napa, Calif., (32%, 1,100 jobs); and Santa Cruz, Calif., (31%, 1,100 jobs.)
Eau Claire, Wis., added the most construction jobs (500) between January 2009 and January 2010 and experienced the largest percentage increase (23%), Simonson noted. Other cities adding construction jobs included Ithaca, N.Y., (9%, 100 jobs); Michigan City, Ind., (6%, 100 jobs); Waterbury, Conn., (5%, 100 jobs); and Grand Forks, N.D. and Minn., (5%, 100 jobs).
The construction economist noted that 230 metropolitan areas experienced double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment while no city experienced a double-digit increase in construction employment. Meanwhile, 18 cities nationwide lost more than 10,000 construction jobs between January 2009 and 2010.
Simonson said the figures underscore the need for new investments in infrastructure as well as new tax incentives designed to stimulate private-sector demand. "If we can't find a way to keep what's left of the industry working, construction job losses are only going to get worse."