Construction employment sees widespread declines

Jobs lost in 160 metro areas, new report shows
October 30, 2012 03:30PM

Construction employment declined year-over-year in September in 160 out of 337 metropolitan areas in the United States, according to a release issued today by the Associated General Contractors of America. As for the rest, 125 cities posted gains in construction employment and numbers in 52 areas remained stagnant.

AGCA officials pinned the reason for construction employment declines on the uncertainty about federal tax and investment programs, as well as on declining public sector demand.

“A lot of project owners appear to be taking a time out until Washington officials can set tax rates for next year and figure out what to do about the planned sequestration cuts,” Ken Simonson, AGCA’s chief economist, said in the release. “Few businesses are going to invest in major new projects when they don’t even know what they will be paying in taxes next year or what direction the economy will be heading.”

Even with the Hurricane Sandy-related damage, “the overall impact of reconstruction work on construction employment is likely to be minimal, as planned projects in Hurricane-damaged communities are put on hold while people rebuild,” Simonson said.

New York City had a 1 percent year-over-year decline with a loss of 800 jobs.

The declines were more dramatic elsewhere in the country. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., saw a year-over-year decline in employment of 6,300 jobs, or a 12 percent decline. Long Island’s Nassau-Suffolk region posted a 9 percent decline of 5,900 jobs and the Edison-New Brunswick area in New Jersey posted a 13 percent loss, or 4,800 jobs. The highest percentage of jobs lost was in Springfield, Mass.-Conn. with 2,600 jobs, representing a 25 percent decline.

As reported earlier this month, there was a month-over-month increase in total construction unemployment in September: 11.9 percent. As of the time of that previous report, the construction industry employed 2.2 million fewer people than it did in 2006, when the industry reached a zenith of 7.7 million workers. – Zachary Kussin