US public cutbacks claim construction jobs

By Chris Sleight27 May 2011

Construction employment fell in 179 out of 337 (53%) of US metropolitan areas in April, compared to the position a year ago, according to analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Employment increased in 114 areas (34%) and was static in 44 (13%).

The AGC said the fall in employment was due to government cutbacks. "At a time when private sector construction activity appears to be on the mend, local, state and federal funding cuts for infrastructure projects may be forcing layoffs in many metro areas, " said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson.

The largest job losses in absolute terms were in New York City, where 9800 jobs (-9%) were lost in the year, followed by Las Vegas (7500 jobs/-16%) and Atlanta (7300 jobs/-8%). In percentage terms, the biggest loser was the Steubenville-Weirton area in Ohio, where construction employment fell -25%, equating to 500 jobs.

However, 7400 jobs were added in Dallas, a +7% increase, and other metro areas in Texas also performed well. Forth Worth added 2900 jobs - +5% - and the Beaumont-Port Arthur area added 2300, or +13%.

According to the AGC, the US private non-residential market is stabilising, and in the residential sector, multi-family projects are on the up. However, these gains are being offset by falls in public construction.

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