SC Construction Employment Increases Six Percent Statewide Year-to-Year

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Construction employment gains spread to more metropolitan areas between July 2012 and July 2013 than in previous months but full recovery remained elusive as only a few areas have exceeded pre-recession employment records, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that despite the gains, Construction employment remains below peak levels in most metro areas.

Construction employment increased in two SC metropolitan areas between July 2012 and July 2013, and declined in three, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the metro areas that are adding construction jobs are seeing private sector demand accelerate.

South Carolina added 4,600 jobs (6 percent) statewide in the 12 month period. “Private sector gains are strong enough in many parts of the country to outpace declining public sector investments in infrastructure and buildings,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill metro area had the greatest increase in construction jobs ( 1,500 jobs, 4 percent), followed by Charleston-Summerville (600 jobs ,41 percent).  Greenville-Mauldin-Easley lost 500 jobs (-4 percent), Augusta-Richmond County (GA) lost 500 jobs (-4 percent) and Columbia  lost 200 construction-related jobs (-1 percent).

“The good news is that 201 metro areas added construction jobs in the past year, the largest number with year-over-year gains since March 2012,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But construction employment is at an all-time July high in only 19 of those areas. At the other extreme, construction employment declined in 90 metros in the last 12 months, and 28 areas have lost at least half of the construction employees they once had.” Construction employment was stable in the past year in 48 metros, he added.

Association officials said that construction employment in many metro areas appears to be benefitting from a steady growth in demand for private-sector construction projects, especially for residential construction. But they noted construction spending and employment levels are still 25 percent below peak levels from 2006 and that public sector demand for construction remains relatively weak.

“The construction market is definitely better than it was just a few years ago, but we are still a long way from a full recovery,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But with many former construction workers now employed in other industries, a number of firms are likely to have an increasingly hard time finding enough skilled workers if employment continues to expand.”  View construction employment figures by stateRead More.