Construction employment declined in 164 out of 337 metropolitan areas between August 2011 and August 2012, increased in 130 and was stagnant in 43, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that construction employment in many areas was suffering as government and business officials delay projects in the face of federal tax and funding uncertainty.

“The looming fiscal cliff is already contributing to construction employment declines in many parts of the country,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “We are just not seeing the kind of private sector momentum that the industry experienced earlier this year.”

The largest job losses were in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (-7,200 jobs, -8%); followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-6,700 jobs, -12%); New York City, N.Y. (-6,200 jobs, -5%) and Philadelphia, Pa. (-4,300 jobs, -6%). Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-31%, -3,700 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Anchorage, Alaska (-21%, -2,200 jobs); Jackson, Miss. (-21%, -2,300 jobs) and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. (-18%, -1,200 jobs).

Yuba City, Calif. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (24%, 400 jobs) followed by Pascagoula, Miss. (21%, 1,000 jobs); Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (17%, 2,500 jobs) and El Centro, Calif. (15%, 200 jobs). Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (8,600 jobs, 8%) added the most jobs. Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (6,900 jobs, 4%); Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (6,300 jobs, 7%); Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (5,100 jobs, 9%) and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (4,700 jobs, 10%).

Association officials cautioned that construction employment would continue to decline until Congress and the administration set tax and spending rates for next year and, preferably, beyond. They said reports from firms across the country indicate that the threat of significant tax hikes and mandatory cuts to a number of key federal construction and infrastructure programs are prompting many owners to delay projects.

“Even more construction workers are at risk of losing their jobs because our elected officials in Washington aren't doing theirs,” said Sandherr. “Setting tax rates and prioritizing federal investments may not be easy, but it ought to be far more preferable than letting our economy languish from uncertainty and inaction.”

View construction employment figures by state and rank.