Updated March 22 at 8:22pm

Construction employment drops in Providence metro in April


WASHINGTON – Construction employment declined in 123 of 339 metro areas – including the Providence-Fall River-Warwick area – rose in 170 out of 339 metro areas – including the New Bedford area – and stayed stagnant in 46 metro areas from April 2012 to April 2013, according to a report from the Associated General Contractors of America.

The Providence metro area lost 1,600 construction jobs in April, a year-over-year loss of 8 percent, to 17,800 jobs, not seasonally adjusted. The drop earned the Providence metro area the No. 307 rank out of the 339 metro areas for construction job growth.

Conversely, the New Bedford metro area’s construction, mining and logging job count increased 9 percent year over year in April to 2,400. The percentage increase earned the metro area the No. 45 rank out of the 339 metro areas.

“Demand for construction continues to grow in many parts of the country amid increasing private sector investments in new residential, energy and supply chain facilities like factories, rail lines and warehouses,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said in prepared remarks. “These private-sector gains appear strong enough in many parts of the country to outpace declining public-sector investments in infrastructure and buildings.”

Statewide, Rhode Island lost 1,400 construction jobs, or 9 percent year over year, in April. Meanwhile, Massachusetts saw a 2 percent employment increase in construction jobs over the year.

The association’s report added that the overall improvement in construction employment was masking longer-term problems that could come from declining public-sector investments, adding that economic growth could suffer as aging transportation infrastructure forces firms to pay more to ship goods.

At the same time, said the report, an increase in construction employment could create worker shortages in the near future as metro areas find a lack of available workers with key construction skills and experience.

“Declining investments in infrastructure and other public assets could ultimately undermine the very growth that is currently boosting employment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO, in a statement. “With hiring on the rebound in many areas, we also need to rebuild vocational education programs and rethink immigration construction caps to ensure there are enough skilled workers available to meet growing demand.”

For the full Associated General Contractors of America report, visit www.agc.org.


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