The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, February 20, 2015

Construction in Michigan rises 6% during 2014

By The Building Tradesman

Statewide, Michigan enjoyed a nice jump in construction employment over the course of the past year, rising 6 percent between December 2013 and December 2014. With a rise of 7,200 jobs to 134,400 total jobs during that time, we were ranked No. 17 among the states by the Associated General Contractors in new construction hiring.

"While weather patterns certainly had an impact on construction employment during the past year, there is little doubt that the construction sector is in recovery mode in most parts of the country," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "The industry should continue to add jobs in 2015 as private and public sector demand continues to grow."

The AGC reported on Feb. 4 that during 2013, construction employment expanded in 257 U.S. metropolitan areas, declined in 43 and was stagnant in 39. AGC officials said the construction industry should continue to expand in 2015, noting that 80 percent of contractors report plans to add new employees this year.

There were numerous local hotbeds of Michigan construction in 2013, led by the Monroe area (ranked No. 3 nationally out of 339), which saw 25 percent greater employment during that 12-month period. The Flint area (up 17 percent, ranked No. 9 nationally) wasn't far behind. And, construction employment in both Ann Arbor and Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn were up 13 percent in 2013, tied for No. 26 nationally.

Nationwide, Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas and Eau Claire, Wis. topped the growth list; while Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. and Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. experienced the largest actual and percentage declines for the year

Association officials noted that one reason contractors are optimistic about their hiring plans is they expect demand in most market segments to grow this year. Yet they cautioned that the industry's outlook could change if Congress and the Obama Administration fail to identify ways to fund needed repairs to aging public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and clean water systems.

"While conditions are looking good for much of the industry, that could change if Washington can't figure out a way to pay for our long-term infrastructure needs," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "But with the president and Congressional leadership exploring ways to finance new public works projects, there is a good chance the industry will continue to add jobs in many parts of the country this year."