Fewer than half of America's metro areas have added construction jobs over past year

The Associated General Contractors of America released new data showing that construction has increased in less than half of the nation’s major metro areas between July 2014 and July 2015.

Those are the weakest construction expansion numbers since late 2011, according to the new analysis of federal employment data from the association.

Association observers noted that the fall in new construction jobs in some of the nation’s metro areas comes amidst a series of vital federal infrastructure funding measures that are languishing unfinished in Congress.

“Although construction employment and spending are still expanding well overall, the gains are increasingly spotty,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said. “Uncertainty over funding for transportation infrastructure, a contraction in oil and gas drilling, and turmoil in international markets have left many local construction markets behind even as others grow strongly.”

Of 358 metro areas that the Labor Department provides construction employment data for, only 168 (47 percent) of those experienced an increase in construction employment over the past year. Construction employment declined in 138 metro areas (39 percent) and was level in 52 metros (15 percent).

Nationally, construction employment increased by 231 thousand (3.8 percent) over the past 12 months.

The hardest hit areas were Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi (-23 percent); Akron, Ohio (-13 percent); New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana (-9 percent); and Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, New Jersey (-6 percent).

AGCA officials are urging Congress to take up important infrastructure bills.

“More metro areas are likely to suffer construction employment declines if policy makers in Washington fail to enact an adequately funded long-term bill for highway and transit infrastructure investment,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO, said.

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