Forecasts & statistics

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Construction employment grows in majority of metros in 2018

Construction employment grew in 273 out of 358 U.S. metro areas between December 2017 and December 2018, according to an analysis of federal employment data recently released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Industry employment declined in 37 metro areas and remained stagnant in 48.

Association officials say the job gains came amid strong demand throughout 2018 for construction projects but noted that tight labor market conditions likely prevented additional job gains last year.

“Construction employment continued to expand in most parts of the country in 2018 as demand for many types of construction projects grew,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “As welcome as the job gains were, many firms would likely have added even more workers if labor market conditions were not so tight.”

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (19,400 jobs, 9 percent). Other metro areas adding a large amount of construction jobs over the past 12 months include Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona; and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida. The largest percentage gain of 28 percent occurred in the Weirton-Steubenville, West Virginia/Ohio area.

The largest job losses in that time period occurred in Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California (-2,800 jobs, -3 percent), followed by San Diego-Carlsbad in California and Honolulu. The largest percentage decrease occurred in Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, Massachusetts/New Hampshire (-9 percent, -300 jobs), followed by Abilene, Texas; Wichita Falls, Texas; and Elmira, New York.

Association officials say workforce shortages are limiting the full economic benefits of robust demand for construction. They urged federal officials to increase technical education funding and enact immigration reform to allow more people to legally work in construction.

The full analysis is available on

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