Construction industry builds more jobs


This home on By-Waters Court NE in Grand Rapids, by Mosaic Homes, is one of many that are going up around West Michigan. Photo by Michael Buck

The past year has given the regional construction industry something to build on — at least as far as jobs are concerned.

No. 54

The Associated General Contractors of America reported last month that construction employment went up from November of 2012 to November of 2013 in 211 of the 339 metro areas it tracks, and the local metro area was one of the 211.

The AGC figures, which come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the Grand Rapids-Wyoming market added 1,100 industry jobs over that period, for a net gain of 8 percent. The local market had 13,900 working in construction in November 2012 and 15,000 were employed locally in the field a year later.

A net employment gain of 8 percent ranks the market at 54th nationwide for construction employment on the AGC list.

No. 5

The Kalamazoo-Portage market also had a banner employment year. AGC said the area’s construction jobs rose by 23 percent, as employment went from 4,000 jobs in November 2012 to 4,900 at the end of the following November. The market ranks 5th on AGC’s job-growth list.

No. 10

The Muskegon-Norton Shores market raised its construction employment from 2,000 to 2,200 jobs for a 10-percent gain and that percentage put the market in 10th place on the growth list.

Flat markets

AGC reported that the Holland-Grand Haven and Battle Creek markets were the only West Michigan metro areas that didn’t record an employment gain for the year.

But the tallies for those markets also show the cities didn’t lose any industry jobs, either. Construction employment stayed at 4,100 jobs in Holland-Grand Haven and remained at 1,600 in Battle Creek.

Niles also lost jobs over the year.

The Ann Arbor, Flint, Monroe and Warren metro areas also had job gains, while the Detroit and Saginaw markets lost jobs during the year.

State growth

Construction employment statewide grew by 2 percent over that year-long period, as 2,600 jobs were added in Michigan, which brought the construction total to 133,800.

U.S. markets

The nation’s largest numerical employment gain happened in the Atlanta metro market, which added 10,500 jobs. The nation’s biggest percentage gain occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, which increased its employment by 29 percent to a total of 500 jobs.

AGC reported that the Cincinnati metro area lost the most jobs over the year with a drop of 4,000, while the largest percentage decline happened in Modesto, Calif. The California metro area saw 24 percent of its construction jobs go away.

Public infrastructure

“It will take many more months of strong economic growth and new investments in public infrastructure before many places experience construction employment levels close to their prior peaks,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC CEO.

From a national perspective, AGC feels for employment gains to continue, those in Washington, D.C. have to find a way to finance needed investments.

“Congress and the administration need to continue working together to find a way to boost economic growth and rebuild our aging infrastructure,” Sandherr said. “Only by working together will Washington officials be able to help our economy grow and construction employment expand in 2014.”

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