Construction employment increased in only three of 13 NC metropolitan areas between April 2012 and April 2013, declined in seven and was stagnant in three, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the metro areas that are adding construction jobs are seeing private sector demand acceleration.
North Carolina lost 3,700 jobs (-2 percent) in the 12 month period. “Private sector gains are strong enough in many parts of the country to outpace declining public sector investments in infrastructure and buildings,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.
Raleigh had the highest loss of construction jobs ( -2,300 jobs, -8 percent), followed by Asheville (-200 jobs, -3 percent), Greenville (-100 jobs, -4 percent), Rocky Mount (-100 jobs, 4 percent), Wilmington (-100 jobs, -1 percent), Winston-Salem (-100 jobs, -1 percent) and Greensboro-High Point (-100 jobs, -1 percent).
The largest job gains were in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC (4,000 jobs, 12 percent), followed by Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill (200 jobs, 1 percent) and Burlington (100 jobs, 4 percent). Durham Chapel Hill, Fayetteville and Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton were unchanged.
Association officials said that improving construction employment was masking longer-term problems that could come from declining public sector investments. They noted, for example, that economic growth could suffer as aging transportation infrastructure forces firms to pay more to ship goods. At the same time, increasing construction employment means more areas could experience worker shortages in the near future amid a lack of available workers with experience in certain key construction skills.
“Declining investments in infrastructure and other public assets could ultimately undermine the very growth that is currently boosting employment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “With hiring on the rebound in many areas, we also need to rebuild vocational education programs and rethink immigration construction caps to ensure there are enough skilled workers available to meet growing demand.”
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