Construction employment rose in 234, or 65 percent, of 358 metro areas between March 2023 and March 2024, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials noted that demand for a range of projects, from infrastructure to manufacturing and data centers, continues to grow in many parts of the country even as firms struggle to find enough workers.


“While high interest rates and post-Covid work patterns are reducing demand for certain types of projects, the overall construction market remains strong and many firms are still expanding their payrolls,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But most firms are struggling to find enough workers as the number of qualified, available workers remains insufficient to satisfy the demand.”


Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. and Baton Rouge, La. added the most construction jobs (6,200 jobs each or 6 percent and 13 percent, respectively) between March 2023 and March 2024. Other metro areas with large numerical increases include Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (5,700 jobs, 7 percent); Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (5,200 jobs, 3 percent); and Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, Mich. (5,000 jobs, 22 percent). The largest percentage gain—27 percent—occurred in Fairbanks, Alaska, which added 600 jobs. The pickup in Fairbanks was followed by Redding, Calif. (24 percent, 900 jobs); Detroit; Anchorage, Alaska (20 percent, 1,800 jobs); Danville, Ill. (20 percent, 100 jobs); and Lawton, Okla. (20 percent, 300 jobs).


Construction employment declined over the year in 81 metro areas and was unchanged in 43 areas. The largest job loss occurred in New York City (-7,500 jobs, -5 percent), followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (-5,700 jobs, -7 percent); Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. (-5,600 jobs, -5 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (-4,600 jobs, -6 percent) and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (-4,500 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage decrease occurred in Decatur, Ill. (-26 percent, -1,000 jobs), followed by Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. (-14 percent, -2,300 jobs); Lake Charles, La. (-11 percent, -1,300 jobs); and Bellingham, Wash. (-11 percent, -1,000 jobs).


Association officials noted that some construction firms are choosing not to bid on projects because they lack sufficient staff to fulfill the work. They warned this will limit competition for vital new infrastructure and economic development projects. They urged Congress and the Biden administration to boost funding for construction education and training programs and to implement reforms to the immigration system.


“Policy makers spent decades dismantling once-robust construction education programs, so even if Congress acts soon, it is going to take time to reinvigorate them,” said Jeffrey D. Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “In the meantime, sensible immigration reform measures can allow more people to lawfully enter the country to work in construction and achieve the American dream.”


View the metro employment datarank, and top 10.