Construction employment increased in the Washington DC metro area, roughly ranking in the middle of the nation from September 2022 to September 2023, with the southern Maryland suburbs doing slightly better than DC and Northern Virginia.
Overall employment in DC and Northern Virginia increased by 3% in the year, ranking the communities 125th in the nation, according to data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. This represented an increase of 400 jobs fro 15,500 to 15,900 in DC and 2,300 jobs (from 82,100 to 84,400) in Northern Virginia.
In Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, there was an increase of 1,800 jobs (5%), increasing employent from 33,100 to 34,900, AGC reported. This resulted in a 23rd in the nation ranking.
Overall, construction employment increased in 212 of 358 metro areas. AGC officials said the figures come as many construction firms work to find new ways to recruit and retain enough workers to keep pace with demand.
“The number of metros adding construction employees has slipped in recent months,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But contractors continue to report they are busy and have large backlogs, so the decline in metros with job gains probably reflects the dearth of qualified unemployed workers, not weaker demand.”
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas added the most construction jobs (17,300 jobs or 11 percent), followed by New York City (15,200 jobs, 10 percent); Baton Rouge, La. (9,000 jobs, 19 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (8,700 jobs, 11 percent); and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,300 jobs, 5 percent). The largest percentage gains were in Baton Rouge, followed by Corvallis, Ore. (13 percent, 200 jobs), Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo. (11 percent, 1,600 jobs); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro; and Dallas-Plano-Irving.
Construction employment declined over the year in 78 metro areas and was unchanged in 68 areas. The largest job loss occurred in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-8,800 jobs, -4 percent), followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (-4,700 jobs, -9 percent); St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (-4,500 jobs, -6 percent); Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. (-4,100 jobs, -5 percent); and San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif. (-2,400 jobs, -6 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Kankakee, Ill. (-13 percent, -200 jobs), followed by Bay City, Mich. (-12 percent, -200 jobs); Pittsfield, Mass. (-9 percent, -200 jobs); Binghamton, N.Y. (-9 percent, -400 jobs), and Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall.
Association officials noted said that member firms were finding new ways to recruit workers amid ongoing tight labor market conditions. They noted that construction employers are modernizing the way they recruit, including using digital advertising and building partnerships with local school districts. They added that the association is supporting those recruiting efforts with its own advertising campaigns and resources, like Culture of Care, to help members better retain workers.
“Construction firms are going to great lengths to recruit and prepare enough workers to keep pace with demand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We are working with those firms to help encourage more people to pursue high-paying careers in construction.”