From today’s Austin Business Journal:
While some Texas cities such as Fort Worth and Houston are among the 153 metro areas in the U.S. that have seen a drop in construction jobs in the past year, Austin’s construction industry has held its own.
According to federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America, Austin gained 100 construction jobs between August 2014 and August of this year. The Austin region had 52,000 people employed in construction that month.
The oil price slump has had a big effect on the local economy and construction projects in Fort Worth, which lost 6,000 construction jobs in the past year to top the national list, followed by Houston, which lost 3,700 construction jobs, the report found.
Other metros with significant job losses included Akron, Ohio; New Orleans; and the Bergen-Hudson-Passaic country area in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Santa Fe, New Mexico, saw the highest percent loss in construction jobs, losing 22 percent of its construction workforce, or 600 jobs.
Ken Simonson, AGCA’s chief economist, attributed the job losses to the difficulty in finding qualified workers and to the ongoing oil slump impacting the Gulf Coast and other regions.
“The fact that fewer than half of metro areas added construction jobs at a time when there were gains in nearly three-fourths of the states suggests that contractors in many more metros would be hiring if they could find qualified workers,” Simonson said in a statement. “In addition, the steep downturn in oil and gas drilling has hit construction hard in cities such as Fort Worth, Houston and New Orleans, even as downstream projects gain steam in places such as Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas.”
Still, of the 358 metros studied, more are adding construction jobs than cutting them.
Jobs increased in 163 areas, led by the Denver area, which added 10,400 jobs over the year, and the Weirton-Steubenville regions of West Virginia and Ohio, which increased construction jobs by 28 percent.
Beaumont, east of Houston, increased its number of construction jobs in the past year by 16 percent.
Earlier this month, AGCA released a report that showed that more than 80 percent of construction companies are having difficulties finding qualified workers. The association added that the shortage is raising the cost of new projects.