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Construction employment declines in District, Maryland suburbs; holds steady in Northern Virginia: AGC

Washington Construction News staff writer

The construction employment environment in the District and southern Maryland suburbs has declined in the last year, while Northern Virginia is holding steady.

US government employment data gathered by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reveals a 5 per cent decline between February 2023 and February 2024 in both DC and in Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville.  DC lost 800 jobs, while the Maryland communities lost 1,500.  Overall employment was 14,300 at the end of the reporting period in DC, while it was 30,000 in Maryland.

Meanwhile, Northern Virginia gained 400 jobs, a one percent increase, to 81,900 jobs.

Overall, the District and Maryland suburbs ranked 332 in the nation, while Northern Virgina ranked at 223.

Nationally, construction employment rose in 227, or 63 percent, of 358 metro areas between February 2023 and February 2024.

Association officials noted that the widespread increase in employment through two-thirds of US metro areas was consistent with recently released numbers showing year-over-year spending gains in every major type of construction project.

“Construction employment has posted steady increases nationally and most metro areas but the industry will need even more workers to meet the demand for nearly every project type,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction spending increased more than 10 percent from February 2023 to February 2024, suggesting the industry will want to hire more workers in many markets.”

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. added the most construction jobs (7,300 jobs or 4 percent) between February 2023 and February 2024, followed by Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6,300 jobs, 8 percent); Baton Rouge, La. (4,400 jobs, 9 percent); Austin-Round Rock, Texas (4,300 jobs, 5 percent); and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (4,300 jobs, 4 percent). The largest percentage gain—23 percent—occurred in Fairbanks, Alaska, which added 500 jobs. The pickup in Fairbanks was followed by 20 percent increases in Lawton, Okla. (300 jobs); Danville, Ill. (100 jobs); and Saginaw, Mich. (600 jobs).

Construction employment declined over the year in 80 metro areas and was unchanged in 51 areas. The largest job loss occurred in New York City (-9,800 jobs, -7 percent), followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (-7,000 jobs, -9 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (-4,200 jobs, -4 percent); Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (-3,100 jobs, -3 percent); and Columbus, Ohio (-3,000 jobs, -6 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Decatur, Ill. (-24 percent, -900 jobs), followed by Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. (-16 percent, -2,700 jobs); Lake Charles, La. (-10 percent, -1,200 jobs); and Bellingham, Wash. (-10 percent, -900 jobs).

Association officials called on Congress to boost funding for construction training and education programs when it funds the Perkins Act and reauthorizes the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act this year. They also urged Congress and the Biden administration to enact immigration reforms to allow more people to lawfully enter the country to work in construction.

“The construction industry isn’t just building amazing projects, it is also building high-paying career opportunities in communities across the country,” said Jeffrey D. Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “Investing in construction training and education and enacting common-sense immigration reforms will put many more people into those high-paying careers.”

View the metro employment , , and .

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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