ARLINGTON, Va. – The Providence-Fall River-Warwick metro area saw a 1 percent increase in construction employment from January 2013 to January 2014, according to The Associated General Contractors of America monthly jobs report released Thursday.
The metro saw its job total grow by 100 to 17,600, according to the trade group, placing the region roughly in the middle of the pack in the nation, with 195 out of 339 metro areas registering an increase in construction jobs year over year. Ninety of the regions showed declines in construction employment, while 54 were stagnant in the period.
“It is a sign of the continued strengthening of the construction industry that nearly 60 percent of metros added construction jobs from a year earlier despite the severe winter conditions in much of the country this January,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.
The largest percentage gains were posted by the Pascagoula, Miss., metro area, with growth of 46 percent (or 2,100 jobs), followed by El Centro, Calif., 39 percent (700 jobs) and Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio, W.V., 38 percent (600 jobs). The largest declines occurred in Gary, Ind., 25 percent (4,400 jobs), Redding, Calif., 17 percent (400 jobs) and Elizabethtown, Ky., 14 percent (200 jobs).
While the Providence metro area showed a slight uptick in construction employment, the report noted that Rhode Island actually saw a drop of 1 percent, or 100 jobs, to 14,000 in the sector from January 2013 to January 2014.
The New Bedford metro area saw a 5 percent gain (100 jobs) year over year, ending up with 2,200 construction jobs in January 2014, ranking it 106th among the nation’s metros. Overall, Massachusetts showed a 1 percent gain (1,400 jobs) in construction industry employment, ending the first month of the year with 110, 200 people employed in the sector.
Rhode Island also reported its overall employment situation for February 2014 on Thursday, revealing that the state jobless rate fell to 9 percent from 9.2 percent in January 2014, as the number of employed Rhode Islanders increased overall by 3,600, while the number of Rhode Island-based jobs increased by 1,500, mainly due, said the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, to gains made in the professional & business services sector.
The AGC warned that despite the steady improvement in the nation, construction is imperiled because Congress and the White House cannot agree on funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which will be depleted by this summer, with the possibility that many construction projects will come to a halt.
“If Congress and the Obama administration can’t figure out a way to address highway funding shortfalls very soon, [the hole the industry is just digging out of] is only going to get deeper,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO.