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HomeAssociationsConstruction employment increases in Metro Washington, but varies sharply from north to...

Construction employment increases in Metro Washington, but varies sharply from north to south

Washington Construction News staff writer

Construction employment increased in 226, or 63 percent, of 358 metro areas between October 2022 and October 2023, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of new government employment data. Association officials noted that tight labor market conditions kept construction employment from increasing in even more metro areas.

In the metropolitan Washington area, the employment numbers varied significantly from North to South.  For example employment grew by 2,200 workers in Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, a 7% increase with a national ranking of 36.

However, employment growth was much lower percentage-wise in the District, with only 300 workers added to the payroll, a 2% increase (with a national ranking of 154). Iand in Northern Virginia, the growth of 400 jobs represented only a 1% increase, with a national ranking of 221.

“Construction employment keeps growing in a solid majority of metro areas but many more would be in the plus-column if contractors could find qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With construction unemployment hovering around 4 percent, it’s clear there aren’t enough jobseekers available to fill all the openings.”

New York City added the most construction jobs (14,600 jobs, 10 percent), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (11,000 jobs, 7 percent); Baton Rouge, La. (9,400 jobs, 20 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (8,300 jobs, 10 percent); and Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (7,800 jobs, 10 percent). The largest percentage gains were in Baton Rouge, La., followed by Lexington-Fayette, Ky. (13 percent, 1,800 jobs); Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich. (13 percent, 3,700 jobs); Corvallis, Ore. (13 percent, 200 jobs); and Toledo, Ohio (12 percent, 1,700 jobs).

Construction employment declined over the year in 54 metros or 15 percent of all areas and was unchanged in 78 areas. The largest job loss occurred in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-11,500 jobs, -5 percent); followed by Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (-5,300 jobs, -5 percent); Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-4,500 jobs, -9 percent); and Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. (-4,500 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Kankakee, Ill. (-13 percent, -200 jobs), followed by Bay City, Mich. (-12 percent, -200 jobs); Binghamton, N.Y. (-11 percent, -500 jobs); Pittsfield, Mass. (-9 percent, -200 jobs); and Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y.

Association officials pointed to the fact relatively few schools offer programs focused on construction as one reason not enough workers are seeking positions in the industry, despite the high wages available. They also pointed to the lack of temporary work visas available specifically for the construction industry. They urged Washington leaders to invest more in construction education and training programs and to explore opportunities to allow more people with construction skills to legally enter the country and work in the industry.

“Policy makers need to expose more students to construction career opportunities and accept new workers if they truly want new infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing facilities,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Instead, they aren’t interested in encouraging students to pursue construction careers or willing to offer a legal path for others to pursue those opportunities.”

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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