The construction labour market in Northern Virginia has performed relatively well in the past year compared to DC and the Southern Maryland suburbs, according to government employment data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.
Employment in Northern Virginia grew by 75,700 workers, a 7 percent increase between January 2022 and January 2023. Conversely, the Maryland suburbs gained only 1 percent (200 jobs) while the District lost the same number, reflecting a 1 percent decline.
In detail, here are the numbers based on employment totals in January 2022 and January 2023, the actual job change, the percentage change, the ranking nationally by employment gain/loss and the ranking by percentage change
- Washington, DC Mining, Logging, and Construction 15,000 14,800 -200 -1% 341 332
- Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 32,600 32,800 200 1% 204 285
- Northern Virginia, VA Mining, Logging, and Construction 77,000 82,700 5,700 7% 8 108
AGC says in a March 17 statement that nationally, construction employment increased in 306 of 358 metro areas between January 2022 and January 2023.
Association officials urged officials in Washington to ease hiring of foreign-born workers to accommodate expected growth in infrastructure, manufacturing, and renewable energy-related projects.
“This report shows construction has been growing nearly everywhere, with jobs being added in 85 percent of metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Despite a decline in homebuilding, contractors in many markets are likely to have trouble finding enough workers to undertake more projects.”
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas added the most construction jobs (13,600 jobs or 9 percent), followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (9,200 jobs, 4 percent); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (8,400 jobs, 6 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (8,000 jobs, 6 percent) and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (8,000 jobs, 11 percent). The largest percentage gains (23 percent each) were in Janesville-Beloit, Wisc. (700 jobs) and Wausau, Wisc. (500 jobs), followed by 20-percent gains in Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. (200 jobs); Springfield, Ill. (600 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (300 jobs); Midland, Texas (6,800 jobs) and Odessa, Texas (3,100 jobs).
Construction jobs declined over the year in 29 metro areas and were unchanged in 23 areas. The largest loss occurred in Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. (-6,200 jobs, -8 percent), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (-4,000 jobs, -3 percent) and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wisc. (-3,300 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage losses (-17 percent each) occurred in Monroe, Mich. (-400 jobs) and Lake Charles, La. (-2,400 jobs), followed by Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-14 percent, -1,300 jobs).
Association officials said that demand for manufacturing plants, data centers, and a variety of infrastructure and renewable energy projects will add to the need for more trained construction employees. They warned that many of these projects may stall or be canceled if contractors cannot find enough skilled workers.
The association is working to ease labor shortages, including running targeted digital advertising campaigns to recruit workers. In addition, over 800 firms have signed up for the association’s Culture of Care program to make workplaces more welcoming and inclusive to retain a higher percentage, and more diverse, workforce. But association officials urged Congress to pass immigration reform to allow more construction workers to enter the country. They also pushed for greater investments in construction-focused training and education programs.
“We are doing our best to attract and retain a new set of construction professionals,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Public officials can help put more people into high-paying construction careers by enacting targeted immigration reforms and investing in construction prep programs.”