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Construction jobs increase in 61% of metro areas

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Construction employment increased in 218 of 358, or 61%, metro areas between March 2018 and March 2019, according to a new analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Construction employment declined in 83 areas and was unchanged in 57, the organization said in a news release.

An 8.4% decline in single-family homebuilding offset increases in multi-family and nonresidential construction, the association said.

“Fewer metros than in recent months recorded construction employment gains over the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “However, the ongoing increase in spending on most categories of construction suggests that the lack of job growth is more likely due to a scarcity of qualified workers rather than a slowing of demand. In fact, there was a record number of job openings in construction going into March.”

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year with 13,800. Other metro areas adding large numbers of construction jobs during the past 12 months included Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,600) and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (7,400). The largest percentage gain, 26%, occurred in Monroe, Mich. (500 jobs).

The largest job losses between March 2018 and March 2019 occurred in Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill., which lost 3,1000 jobs, followed by Kansas City, Kan. (minus-2,000 jobs). The largest percentage decrease took place in Danville, Ill., which saw a decline of 20%, or 100 jobs.

“Construction spending totaled $1.282 trillion in March, down 0.9 percent from February and down 0.8 percent from March 2018,” Simonson said. “However, the yearly decline was confined to single-family homebuilding, which fell by 8.4% over 12 months. At the same time, new multi-family construction spending jumped by 11%, private nonresidential spending increased by 2.1% and public construction spending rose 8.6%. The record 286,000 job openings at the end of February shows there were still plenty of projects needing workers in March.”

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