The South Bend area (combined with Mishawaka, MI) reported the fifth highest percentage increase in construction-related employment nationally in the past year, according to federal employment data compiled by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA). Employment skyrocketed 15 percent to reach 6,100 workers in the past year.
However, reflecting the relatively small market size, the number of new jobs created — 800 (also including mining and logging work) is less than the 1,200 gain in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, which ranked in the middle nationally, with a 2 percent increase in employment, increasing the overall numbers to 50,800 from 49,600.
The Gary market also showed improvements, increasing 1,100 or 6 percent from 17,000 to 18,100 workers, as did Columbus, increasing 11 percent from 1,800 to 2,000 workers.
Nationally, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdaleand Monroe, Mich. Have Largest Gains While Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.and Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. Have Biggest Losses for the Year, AGCA reported.
Construction employment grew in 250 out of 358 metro areas between April 2018 and April 2019, declined in 53 and was unchanged in 55. Association officials said construction employment in many parts of the country likely would have been higher if firms could find more qualified workers to hire.
“Demand for construction is steady or rising in most parts of the country, and many contractors are adding workers when they can find them,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “At the same time, many firms report they would have hired even more employees if only they could find enough qualified workers.”
The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. metro area added the most construction jobs during the past year (16,600 jobs, 14 percent). Other metro areas adding a large amount of construction jobs during the past 12 months include Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (9,200 jobs, 6 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (8,400 jobs, 6 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,000 jobs, 6 percent) and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (6,800 jobs, 11 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Monroe, Mich. (26 percent, 500 jobs) and St. Cloud, Minn. (26 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by Auburn-Opelika, Ala. (25 percent, 600 jobs) and Norwich-New London-Westerly, Conn.-R.I. (16 percent, 600 jobs).
The largest job losses between April 2018 and April 2019 occurred in Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C. (-2,600 jobs, -4 percent), followed by Baton Rouge, La. (-1,800 jobs, -3 percent); Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. (-1,600 jobs, -8 percent) and Longview, Texas (-1,300 jobs, -9 percent). The largest percentage decrease took place in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss. (-13 percent, -1,200 jobs) and Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. (-13 percent, -800 jobs), followed by Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich. (-12 percent, -300 jobs); Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-9 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Longview, Texas.
Association officials said that even though construction employment continues to expand in many parts of the country, workforce shortages remain problematic for many contractors eager to keep pace with strong demand. They urged federal officials to boost investments in career and technical education and to enact immigration reform that allows more men and women with construction skills to legally enter the country. They also urged state and local education officials to establish more school programs that offer exposure to essential construction skills.
“One reason relatively few young adults choose to pursue rewarding careers in construction is because not many of them are being told it is an option to consider,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We have a lot of contractors looking for workers so they can keep up with the amount of work that is out there.”