The Associated General Contractors of America reports construction employment declined in 164 out of 337 U.S. metropolitan areas between May 2011 and May 2012, increased in 126 and stayed stagnant in 47. North Carolina lost 5,400 construction jobs (-3%) in the same period. Association officials said that construction employment suffers even as Congress continues to debate the possible replacement for a highway and transit bill that expired over three years ago, and other infrastructure and economic measures languish.
“The number of metro areas losing construction jobs continues to increase compared to earlier this year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Considering the ongoing cuts to public construction budgets, there just isn’t enough construction activity in many areas to sustain the same employment levels as last year.”
In North Carolina, the largest job losses were in Wilmington (-1,300 jobs, -13 percent); followed by Raleigh-Cary (-300 jobs, -1 percent); Durham-Chapel Hill (-300, -1%) and Asheville (-200 jobs, -3%).
Areas adding the largest number of new construction jobs included Greensboro-High Point (600 jobs, 4%); Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill (500 jobs, 1% percent) and Winston-Salem (400 jobs, 5%). Construction employment in Fayetteville and Greenville remained stagnant.
Association officials urged members of a congressional conference committee working on a new federal highway and transit bill to complete negotiations before current funding expires on June 30. They noted that many vital transportation improvement projects will likely remain on hold until a longer term measure is passed that allows state officials to plan for and finance complex projects.
“While there are many factors contributing to the ongoing construction employment losses, the lack of a highway and transit bill is certainly not helping,” said the association’s chief executive officer, Stephen E. Sandherr. “Passing a bill soon will save a lot of construction jobs and help the industry hang on until private sector demand heats up and state and local budgets get stronger.” Read More.