N. California College of Construction News Blog

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May 3, 2013

Posted by nahetsblog on May 2, 2013

Construction employment in San Antonio rose 5 percent in March

General contractors in San Antonio added 1,900 employees to their payrolls between March 2012 and March 2013, according to Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The San Antonio/New Braunfels metropolitan region had 40,200 construction employees last March. A year later, that number had risen 5 percent to 42,100 workers.

That’s the same percentage by which employment figures went up in February as well.

In February 2012, the greater San Antonio construction industry had 40,000 workers. By February 2013, that number had risen 5 percent to 41,900 workers.

AGC’s breakdown for the Texas metros shows that all but two cities saw employment numbers rise between March 2012 and 2013. Employment numbers decreased 1 percent in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area. Meanwhile, employment numbers were unchanged in the Sherman/Denison area.

Corpus Christi added the highest percentage of new construction jobs at 18 percent.

The Dallas/Plano/Irving metro added the highest number of jobs — 12,000 between March 2012 and 2013.

Construction Employment Increased Annually In 152 Metro Areas

Construction employment levels are reported below by the Associated General Contractors of America:

Construction employment increased in 152 out of 339 metropolitan areas between March 2012 and March 2013, declined in 126 and was stagnant in 61, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that many metro areas are adding jobs as construction spending increased 4.8 percent, or $38.9 billion, during the same time frame.

“Today’s figures on employment by metro area and construction spending nationally in March highlight the uneven and fragile recovery that construction is experiencing,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The totals are up on a year-over-year basis, and should continue to improve during the remainder of 2013, but not every sector or region will do well.”

Pascagoula, Miss. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (47 percent, 1,700 jobs) followed by Fargo, N.D. (21 percent, 1,300 jobs); Merced, Calif. (19 percent, 300 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (18 percent, 1,500 jobs); Corpus Christi, Texas (18 percent, 4,000 jobs) and Salinas, Calif. (18 percent, 700 jobs). Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (12,000 jobs, 11 percent) added the most jobs. Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (8,500 jobs, 5 percent); Baltimore-Towson, Md. (7,700 jobs, 12 percent) and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (7,500 jobs, 7 percent).

The largest job losses were in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-2,700 jobs, -3 percent) and Northern Virginia (-2,700 jobs, -4 percent); followed by Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. (-2,600 jobs, -7 percent); Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. (-2,300 jobs, -14 percent) and Raleigh-Cary, N.C. (-2,200 jobs, -8 percent). Monroe, Mich. (-19 percent, -500 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Rockford, Ill. (-18 percent, -700 jobs); Bellingham, Wash. (-15 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Pocatello, Idaho (-15 percent, -200 jobs).

Simonson noted that construction spending nationally in March was 4.8 percent higher than in March 2012, but down 1.7 percent from a month earlier, according to new Census Bureau data. Only private residential construction spending grew in both time periods, rising 0.4 percent for the month and 18 percent year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending retreated 1.5 percent from the February level, but increased 2.8 percent from March 2012. Public construction activity dropped 4.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

“For the rest of the year, the best performing categories are likely to be multifamily housing, power and energy, manufacturing, warehouses and private transportation while most public segments will continue to languish,” Simonson added. “For the year as a whole, I expect both residential and private nonresidential construction spending to top 2012 totals by 10 to 15 percent, while public construction will slip 2 to 5 percent.”

Construction awaits an employment boost

Construction employment declined in three of the state’s four major metropolitan areas over the year ending in March, but a spate of recent project announcements is expected to turn those numbers around.

"The numbers basically seem like the industry is responding in fits and spikes to the recovery," said Scott Norvell, executive director of Master Builders of Iowa, which represents the state’s construction industry.

Construction employment in Greater Des Moines dropped 2 percent over the year ending in March, to 12,100 from 12,300. The largest decline was in the Quad Cities, which lost 700 jobs over the period. The only gain was in the Council Bluffs and Omaha area, where 1,600 jobs were added.

Norvell said the start of construction of a fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa combined with Principal Financial Group Inc.’s renovation and the building of a $300 million Facebook Inc. data center in Altoona will cause a spike in construction employment.

Two of the projects alone are estimated to create 4,500 jobs. The nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant near Wever would need 2,500 construction workers and the Facebook project would require 2,000.

"The real question is whether this is just another spike or is it what you can look at as a longer-term recovery," Norvell said. "We think the jury is still out on that."

Still, efforts by the Iowa Economic Development Authority to bring new business to the state should pay off in commercial construction, which will lead to gains in home building and the overall economy, Norvell said.

One drag on construction employment will be a lack of skilled workers, many of whom left the industry during the recession and have not returned. The recession interrupted training sessions that were underway. In addition, the industry has an aging workforce.

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