Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. and Kokomo, Ind. Top Gainers; Biggest Losses are in Bloomington, Ill. and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, as Construction Group Calls for New Perkins Act
Construction employment increased in 228 out of 358 metro areas, was unchanged in 48 and declined in 82 between June 2015 and June 2016, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged Congress to act on legislation to reform and increase federal funding for career and technical education to encourage more high school students to pursue high-paying careers in construction.
“Contractors are adding employees in most parts of the country, while construction job losses are primarily in areas that are most affected by the steep decline in oil and gas drilling,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, adding that construction employment hit new peak levels in 32 metro areas. “However, increases in construction employment are becoming less widespread as more contractors run into difficulty finding qualified workers.”
Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. added the most construction jobs during the past year (12,500 jobs, 14 percent). Other metro areas adding a large number of construction jobs include Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (10,700 jobs, 11 percent); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (9,900 jobs, 10 percent); and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (9,500 jobs, 16 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Kokomo, Ind. (20 percent, 200 jobs); Boise City, Idaho (19 percent, 3,600 jobs); Brockton-Bridgewater-Eastern, Mass. (17 percent, 800 jobs) and Danville, Ill. (17 percent, 100 jobs).
The largest job losses from June 2015 to June 2016 were in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-3,300 jobs, -2 percent), followed by Midland, Texas (-1,400 jobs, -5 percent); Odessa, Texas (-1,300 jobs, -8 percent); and New Orleans-Metairie, La. (-1,200 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Bloomington, Ill. (-19 percent, -600 jobs); Rocky Mount, N.C. (-13 percent, -300 jobs); Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala. (-11 percent, -100 jobs) and Grants Pass, Ore. (-11 percent, -100 jobs).
Association officials said the latest employment figures underscore the need to reinvigorate high school-level training programs to encourage more students to pursue construction careers. They added that the House Education and Workforce Committee has passed legislation that includes many of the reforms, and some of the funding increases, the association has called for to rebuild the once vocational education system in this country. They urged members of the House and Senate to pass the measure as quickly as possible.
“It makes no sense that there are thousands of young people who can’t find a job while we have hundreds of members who can’t find enough workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress can help fix this mismatch by passing legislation that makes it easier for schools to prepare students with the skills they need to find high-paying jobs in careers like construction.”