Construction employment figures show regional gains and losses

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Construction employment was up, down and steady – depending on the state – in November.

Construction employment declined year-over-year in 151 of 337 metropolitan areas. It remained stagnant in 60 and increased in 126 areas, according to a monthly construction employment report from the Association of General Contractors.

The association reported that Hurricane Sandy accounted for significant construction slowdowns and job losses in New York and New Jersey during the month and a half following the devastating storm.

Other political and economic factors impacted construction jobs in other areas.

“The uncertainty about 2013 federal tax and spending rates likely prompted firms in many parts of the country to hold back on hiring,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said in a statement.

The largest job loss was in Nassau-Suffolk, New York, which saw an 11 percent decline in construction employment as 6,900 jobs went away.

Other areas with significant construction employment declines include Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. (-5,200 jobs, -13 percent); Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-4,500 jobs, -4 percent) and Putnam-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-4,300 jobs, -13 percent). Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-24 percent, -2,300 jobs) lost the highest percentage.

While some areas across the country saw construction employment declines, others added workers. Pascagoula, Miss. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (31 percent, 1,500 jobs) followed by Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Mass.-N.H. (18 percent, 700 jobs); El Centro, Calif. (15 percent, 200 jobs) and Lafayette, La. (15 percent, 1,000 jobs). Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (15,300 jobs, 9 percent) added the most jobs.

While Hurricane Sandy initially caused job loss, Association officials say they expect a rebound.

“With the first batch of reconstruction funds finally heading to the New York area, there should be a bit more opportunity for construction workers in those areas,” Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It will likely take months, if not years, for the region to bounce back from the losses it experienced during the economic downturn and subsequent hurricane.”