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Harvey Recovery Even More Difficult as Houston Loses Most Construction Jobs in Nation

In the midst of an acute labor shortage on the Gulf Coast and after the passage of an immigration crackdown in Texas that’s already creating challenges for recruitment in construction, we now get news from the Associated General Contractors of America that Houston lost the most industry jobs nationally – 4,500 workers – between August 2016 and August 2017.

The AGC of America released an analysis of federal employment data this week showing Houston was one of 52 cities nationally to experience a decline in construction employment. Construction employs roughly 211,000 workers in the Houston metro, per the AGC. 

"While many firms' efforts to increase pay, add benefits and expand the diversity of their workforce appear to be helping, it is still a challenge for many contractors to keep pace with demand," said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist who is also a contributor here on Construction Citizen. "It is not yet entirely clear how reconstruction work in Texas and Florida following the two recent hurricanes will impact already tight construction labor markets,” Simonson said.

"The shortage of available, qualified craft workers is clearly having an impact on the way many firms operate," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO. "If these shortages continue, they are likely to have a significant impact on overall economic growth,” Sandherr said.

More numbers from the AGC report:  

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. added the most construction jobs during the past year (15,800 jobs, 17 percent), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (11,000 jobs, 8 percent); Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (10,900 jobs, 20 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (8,500 jobs, 13 percent) and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (7,400 jobs, 10 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in the Lewiston, Idaho-Wash. metro area (27 percent, 400 jobs) followed by Lake Charles, La. (23 percent; 4,800 jobs); Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Mich. (20 percent, 4,400 jobs); Las Vegas; Killeen-Temple, Texas (17 percent, 1,600 jobs) and Riverside, Calif.

The largest job losses from August 2016 to August 2017 were in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-4,500 jobs, -2 percent), followed by Columbia, S.C. (-3,900 jobs, -23 percent); Orange-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-2,500 jobs, -6 percent); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (-2,300 jobs, -4 percent) and Middlesex-Monmouth-Ocean, N.J. (-1,900 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage decreases for the year were in Columbia, S.C.; followed by Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn. (-22 percent, -1,100 jobs); Danville, Ill. (-17 percent, -100 jobs) and Trenton, N.J. (-9 percent, - 500 jobs).

You can check out the employment data by rank and by state