State, Lexington buck trend with slight gain in construction jobs

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Nearly one-third of U.S. metro areas lost construction jobs between August 2020 and August 2021, according to an by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released Wednesday.

Kentucky and several of its metro areas, including Lexington, were among those that gained jobs during the period, according to the association.

Association officials noted the job losses are occurring as the fate of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would boost demand for construction remains uncertain in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“While construction activity has rebounded from pandemic lows in many metros, the recovery is fragile,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Extreme production and delivery delays, along with continuing high materials costs, may lead to project cancellations and postponements that cut into job gains.”

Overall, Kentucky gained jobs (CONSTRUCTION Metro Empl 2021_August_12Month_Alpha_0), going from 79,000 to 83,000 in construction from August 2020 to August 2021 and 86.500 to 90,100 in the mining and construction category.

Lexington saw a slight increase from 13,900 jobs to 14,000 while the Huntington-Ashland area increased from 7,600 to 7,800 and the Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati area fell from 49,000 to 48,000.

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 65 metros and held steady in 37.

New York City lost the most jobs (-8,600 jobs or -6 percent), followed by Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. (-5,100 jobs, -6 percent); Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (-3,200 jobs, -6 percent); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s, Md. (-2,400 jobs, -7 percent) and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-2,300 jobs, -1 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-14 percent, -1,400 jobs); Tuscaloosa, Ala. (-12 percent, -800 jobs); Watertown-Fort Drum, N.Y. (-11 percent, -200 jobs); Morristown, Tenn. (-10 percent, -200 jobs); Victoria, Texas (-9 percent, -300 jobs) and Gadsden, Ala. (-9 percent, -100 jobs).

Construction employment increased in 256 out of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. added the most construction jobs (8,900 jobs, 11 percent; followed by Sacramento-Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. (8,600 jobs, 12 percent); Pittsburgh, Pa. (7,200 jobs, 12 percent); Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,300 jobs, 9 percent) and St. Louis, Mo. (6,300 jobs, 9 percent). Lawrence-Methuen Town-Salem, Mass. had the highest percentage increase (26 percent, 900 jobs); followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (23 percent, 3,600 jobs); Bloomington, Ill. (17 percent, 500 jobs); and Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz. (16 percent, 500 jobs).

Association officials urged members of both parties in the House to vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, noting its new funding was needed to modernize the nation’s aging highways and transit systems. They noted the measure is slated for a vote this Thursday and cautioned that the industry was likely to lose more construction jobs without the measure.

“This is the kind of infrastructure bill that Democrats and Republicans have been promising to pass for years now,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Failing to pass this measure will create new challenges for the economy.”

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