Published Sept. 28, 2015
The number of workers in metro Columbia construction businesses dropped 6% in August, mirroring a national trend fueled by growing fears of budget fights in Congress could trim federal funding for construction programs and growing shortages of qualified construction workers.
Construction in the Midlands dropped by 900 workers to 14,200 in August compared with 15,100 for August 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Both the Charleston and Spartanburg metro markets recorded a 2% decline in construction employment while construction employment was flat in Greenville.
Statewide, construction employment grew 8% in August to 89,800 workers compared with 83,100 for August 2014.
"The fact that fewer than half of metro areas added construction jobs at a time when there were gains in nearly three-fourths of the states suggests that contractors in many more metros would be hiring if they could find qualified workers," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist.
Association officials also noted that the number of metro areas experiencing construction employment declines has begun growing as Congress has failed to pass a long-term surface transportation bill and fears grow about a potential federal shutdown. This uncertainty is hurting demand for contractors who work on federal and federally funded projects. Meanwhile, contractors working in in-demand areas like warehouse construction are having a hard time finding qualified workers, likely contributing to hiring slowdowns, the association said.
"Depending on the type of work they perform, contractors either can't find enough work for their people, or can't hire enough workers for their projects," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Congress can help boost construction employment by passing measures to invest in aging infrastructure and supporting new investments in career and technical education programs to train future workers.”
Source: Associated General Contractors of America