Construction employment is up in 139 of 337 cities tracked by the Associated General Contractors of America.
“Private sector demand for energy, health care, higher education and residential construction is having a positive impact in a growing number of metro areas,” the association’s chief economist Ken Simonson said. “Unfortunately, construction employment in almost as many metro areas appears to be suffering from declining public sector demand and a private sector market that is still well-below peak levels.”
Pascagoula, Miss. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs in December, with 1,900 jobs, 49 percent. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas added the most jobs at 17,600 jobs.
The largest job losses were in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga., with 4,900 fewer construction jobs. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. Lost 3,600 jobs.
Association officials noted that construction employment is benefitting from growing demand for construction, driven primarily by the private sector. The rebounding housing market and relatively strong demand for health care, energy and higher education facilities boosted construction spending levels by more than 7 percent for the year through November. But construction spending was still more than $300 billion below peak levels amid declining public sector activity and weaker demand for office, retail and lodging.
“Contractors in some areas appear confident enough about market conditions to begin adding staff,” association CEO Stephen E. Sandherr said in a statement. “The question is whether private sector demand will continue to grow in 2013 or stall as it has done in prior years.”