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Some gains, some losses in metro Washington construction employment in the past year: AGC

Communities in the metropolitan Washington market area had varying results in terms of construction employment in the year between January 2021 and January 2022, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reports citing federal employment data.

The District of Columbia gained 500 jobs — an increase of 3 percent — while Northern Virginia communities lost the same 3 percent, but the actual job loss was much greater, at 2,400 jobs. Southern Maryland communities fared somewhat better than Northern Virginia.

See detailed local breakdowns below. Data includes employment levels in January 2021, January 2022, the numerical change, percentage change, and national ranking.

  • Washington, DC Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,500 15,000 500 3% 170
  • Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Div. Mining, Logging, and Construction 31,800 32,700 900 3% 170
  • Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, MD Mining, Logging, and Construction 33,200 32,800 -400 -1% 301
  • Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Mining, Logging, and Construction 78,500 79,000 500 1% 244
  • Northern Virginia, VA Mining, Logging, and Construction 77,400 75,000 -2,400 -3% 328

“Construction employment is now increasing in most areas after a rough first year of the pandemic,” said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “But contractors recently have had more unfilled positions at the end of each month than they have been able to fill.”

Job openings in construction totaled 384,000 at the end of January, an increase of 81,000 or nearly 27 percent from January 2021, according to the government’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. That figure exceeded the 259,000 employees that construction firms were able to hire in January, implying firms would have added over twice as many workers if they had been able to fill all openings, Simonson pointed out.

Construction employment rose in 261 or 73 percent of 358 metro areas in 2021. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas added the most construction jobs (10,300 jobs, 5 percent), followed by the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas metro division (7,600 jobs, 5 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,100 jobs, 6 percent); and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. division (4,700 jobs, 3 percent). Cheyenne, Wyo. had the highest percentage gain (47 percent, 1,400 jobs), followed by Lake Charles, La. (21 percent, 3,100 jobs); Weirton-Steubenville, W. Va.-Ohio (21 percent, 300 jobs); and Bloomington, Ill. (20 percent, 500 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 58 metros and was flat in 39. New York City lost the most jobs (-8,100 or -6 percent), followed by the Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif. division (-3,400 jobs, -5 percent) and Northern Virginia, Va. (-2,400 jobs, -3 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (-31 percent, -900 jobs); Danville, Ill. (-17 percent, -100 jobs); Tuscaloosa, Ala. (-9 percent, -600 jobs); and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif. (-9 percent, -900 jobs).

Association officials said firms would have likely added more workers during the past year if they could have found qualified candidates to hire. They urged federal, state and local officials to create more programs to expose learners and adults to construction skills and career opportunities to ensure more workers benefit from increasing federal infrastructure investments.

“Now that Washington is boosting infrastructure funding, public officials should take steps to encourage more people to pursue high-paying careers in construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “This industry has the capacity to put many more people into the American middle class.”

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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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