Construction spending increased nationwide by 1% from January to February, with the industry adding jobs in 232 out of 358 metro areas since February, according to analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors.
“The spending increase in February follows an extremely strong 2.5%gain in January, which aligns with contractors’ reports that they were busy early in the year and expect to stay that way through 2019,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in a news release. “The major challenge they face is finding enough workers.”
Construction spending totaled $1.32 trillion in February, up 1% from January rate and 1.1% compared to February 2018. Public construction accounted most of those increases, Simonson said, increasing 3.6% for the month and 11.5% year-over-year. The largest public category, highway and street construction, jumped 22.8% from a year ago, while the next-largest segment, educational construction, rose 5.5% year-over-year.
Construction employment grew in 232 out of 358 metro areas between February 2018 and February 2019, declined in 73 and was unchanged in 53, according to the Associated General Contractors’ analysis.
The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year at 11,900, followed by Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga., with 9,700 jobs. The largest job loss occurred in Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif.., which saw a decrease of 3,300 jobs, followed by San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. at minus-2,600 jobs.