The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, February 17, 2012

NEWS BRIEFS

By The Building Tradesman



1% rise for Michigan construction in 2011 

A number of regions in Michigan enjoyed a brief surge of relatively strong construction employment last summer compared to other areas of the U.S., but when the weather cooled off, so did work opportunities.

Still, a December 2010 to December 2011 comparison of construction activity in the 50 states and in 337 U.S. “metropolitan” areas released Feb. 1 by the Associated General Contractors revealed that Michigan overall saw a 1 percent increase in employment activity.

That’s compared to a 2 percent drop for the U.S. as a whole.

During that 12-month period, Michigan’s construction employment gained a total of 1,000 construction jobs, for a total of 122,600 at the end of the year.

By December 2011, the best national ranking for any area in Michigan for construction employment was No. 43, in the “Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills” region – a 7 percent increase resulting in an increase of 2,300 jobs construction jobs. “Niles-Benton Harbor” was next closest to the top at No. 49 (+100 jobs), gaining 6 percent. “Ann Arbor” (No. 96, +3 percent) was the only other area in the top-100 nationwide.

Lansing- East Lansing came in at -7 percent, No. 306; “Muskegon-Norton Shores” (-7 percent, No. 306-tied) and “Flint” (-9 percent, No. 323) were near the bottom of the list.

Around the nation, winners and losers in construction employment were scattered.

Lake County-Kenosha County, Ill.-Wis., added both the most and the highest percentage of new construction jobs (33 percent, 3,900 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs were Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (3,700 jobs, 11 percent) and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (3,600 jobs, 8 percent).

The largest job losses were in Philadelphia (-4,800 jobs, -7 percent), followed by New York City (-4,600 jobs, -4 percent) and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (-4,500 jobs, -4 percent).

“Many communities are benefitting from growing demand from the private sector for new construction activity,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, too many other areas are still coping with construction employment losses as the overall market remains relatively weak.”

Simonson noted that total annualized construction spending increased from $782.9 billion in December 2010 to $816.4 billion in December 2011, a 4.3 percent annual increase.

Association officials said that recent developments in Washington that could lead to passage of long-delayed highway, bridge, transit and aviation investment legislation could give a needed boost to construction employment in many areas. They added that they would continue pushing Congress to act on the measures as part of the group’s “Make Transportation Job #1” campaign.

“Construction employment should increase once Congress finally acts on long-overdue infrastructure measures,” said the association’s chief executive officer, Stephen E. Sandherr. “After all Washington should be taking measures to help this industry recover, instead of holding it back.”

Lake County-Kenosha County, Ill.-Wis., added both the most and the highest percentage of new construction jobs (33 percent, 3,900 jobs). Other areas adding a large number of jobs were Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (3,700 jobs, 11 percent) and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (3,600 jobs, 8 percent).

The largest job losses were in Philadelphia (-4,800 jobs, -7 percent), followed by New York City (-4,600 jobs, -4 percent) and Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (-4,500 jobs, -4 percent).

“Many communities are benefitting from growing demand from the private sector for new construction activity,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, too many other areas are still coping with construction employment losses as the overall market remains relatively weak.”

Simonson noted that total annualized construction spending increased from $782.9 billion in December 2010 to $816.4 billion in December 2011, a 4.3 percent annual increase.

Association officials said that recent developments in Washington that could lead to passage of long-delayed highway, bridge, transit and aviation investment legislation could give a needed boost to construction employment in many areas. They added that they would continue pushing Congress to act on the measures as part of the group’s “Make Transportation Job #1” campaign.

“Construction employment should increase once Congress finally acts on long-overdue infrastructure measures,” said the association’s chief executive officer, Stephen E. Sandherr. “After all Washington should be taking measures to help this industry recover, instead of holding it back.”