Construction employment continues to rise in a large majority of metros throughout the US. According to a report published by the Associated General Contractor of America (AGC), compared to August 2017, construction employment in August 2018 increased in more than 80% of the 357 metros reported, remained flat in 10% and fell in 10%. The report was based on the construction employment data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 357 metros.
The four states with the most construction employment continued to show a strong growth. Texas and Florida experienced about 8% growth followed by California and New York at around 3%. Metros in Delaware saw the largest employment growth rate (13.6%) while New Jersey saw the largest employment drop (-5.4%). The chart below shows the growth in each state. One should note that the BLS data for some metros combines employment data in mining and logging with that in construction. For example, the employment data for 25 of the 27 metros in Texas, which is experiencing a strong energy sector, includes mining and logging data.
Three of the top five metros with the largest employment gains were in Texas, with Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area showing the largest net gain (28,900), almost twice as much as the second place Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area (15,800). The very strong growth in some areas of Texas may be attributed to continuing recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Nonetheless, 70 of 357 metro areas reported record levels of construction employment for the month of August.
In California, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario areas experienced the largest net gain (4,500) followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (3,200). San Diego-Carlsbad metro area came close third with 3,100 net gain. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara achieved its highest construction employment since 2000. One should keep in mind that the BLS data does not break down the metro area as we normally think of them. The bubble diagram below shows the top metros with the largest employment gains between August 2017 and August 2018.
The rising construction employment is a leading indicator of an industry that continues to grow and this trend is expected to continue, according to a recent survey by the AGC. However, this trend also means a shrinking labor pool that is getting very competitive. In fact, according to the same survey, 80 percent of construction firms report having difficulty meeting their labor needs. Are you having similar difficulties in your region and how are you trying to address them?