Construction employment fell in 179 of 337 U.S. metro areas between April 2010 and April 2011, reports AGC of America; group says increases in private-sector activity are being offset by infrastructure funding cuts

ARLINGTON, Virginia , May 26, 2011 () – Construction employment declined in 179 out of 337 metropolitan areas between April 2010 and April 2011, increased in 114 and stayed level in 44, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that despite recent increases in private-sector construction activity, the layoffs are occurring as public investments in infrastructure decline.

“At a time when private sector construction activity appears on the mend, local, state and federal funding cuts for infrastructure projects may be forcing layoffs in many metro areas,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The economic consequences of these cuts will only worsen as the economy begins to suffer the consequences of deferred maintenance and stalled projects.”

Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, again added more construction jobs (7,400 jobs, 7 percent) than any other metro area during the past year while Grand Forks, ND-MN, added the highest percentage (18 percent, 400 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (2,900 jobs, 5 percent); Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (2,300 jobs, 13 percent); Columbus, Ohio (2,200 jobs, 8 percent); and the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area (2,000 jobs, 2 percent).

The largest job losses were in New York City (-9,300 jobs, -8 percent); followed by Las Vegas, NV (-7,500 jobs, -16 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA (-7,300 jobs, -8 percent); and Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO (-5,400 jobs, -8 percent). Steubenville-Weirton, OH-WV (-25 percent, -500 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Lewiston, ID-WA (-18 percent, -200 jobs); and Bend, OR (-18 percent, -600 jobs).

Association officials said that private nonresidential and multifamily construction appear to be stabilizing or picking up in most markets, but that the gains are being offset by drops in public construction. They noted, for example, that private sector investments in nonresidential construction increased nearly two percent in March while public investments in transportation declined by 11.1 percent, in public safety declined by 15.6 percent and in sewage facilities declined by 7.9 percent.

Referring to a new report, "The Case for Infrastructure and Reform," the association just released, officials said they were pushing for reforms to infrastructure programs to restore public confidence in them. "Our message is clear, keeping drivers safe, protecting communities from flooding and making sure drinking water is clean can be a wise investment, not a waste of money,” said the association’s chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr.

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