Construction employment declined in 156 out of 337 metropolitan areas between October 2011 and October 2012, increased in 127 and was stagnant in 54, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. However, construction jobs in many parts of the country are at risk if Congress and the president allow the “fiscal cliff” to occur, according to a new report the association released recently.
“These figures show how spotty the construction recovery has been — even within a single state,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “If taxes hump and federal construction spending is slashed next month, even more metros will have construction job losses.”
The largest job losses were in Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y., (-5,600 jobs, -9%); followed by Philadelphia (-5,400 jobs, -8%); Newark-Union, N.J.-Penn,. (-4,000 jobs, -11%) and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., (-4,000 jobs, -10%). Springfield, Mass.-Conn., (-27%, -2,800 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Jackson, Miss., (-21%, -2,300 jobs), Lansing-East Lansing, Mich., (-18%, -1,100 jobs) and Birmingham-Hoover, Ala., (-17%, -3,900 jobs).
Pascagoula, Miss., added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (29%, 1,400 jobs) followed by Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H., (18%, 700 jobs); Mobile, Ala., (18%, 1,900 jobs) and Chattanooga, Tenn. (17%, 1,500 jobs). Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, (17,400 jobs, 10%) added the most jobs. Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash., (6,500 jobs, 10%); Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass., (6,300 jobs, 12%); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, (5,100 jobs, 5%) and Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, (5,100 jobs, 9%).
Association officials cautioned that even more metro areas could experience construction job losses if Congress and the administration allow the spending cuts and tax hikes that make up the fiscal cliff to occur. In the new report released by the Associated General Contractors of America, the organization details how the mandatory spending cuts included in the cliff cut over $6 billion worth of federal construction projects next year alone.
Contractors that work on military construction projects are particularly vulnerable, association officials noted, given the $2 billion hit to Defense Department construction projects included in the sequestration. In addition, funding for local highway and transit projects is likely to be cut because the sequestration cuts nearly a half billion dollars out of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. And they warned that most economists predict the fiscal cliff would undermine broader economic growth. The tax increases from the cliff alone would increase unemployment and cause the economy to contract, according to the Congressional Budget Office, for example.
“Allowing the fiscal cliff to occur will only make our nation’s fiscal problems worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “Construction workers can ill afford the kind of recession that the fiscal cliff would cause.” View construction employment figures by state and rank.