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Construction employment rises in most US metros, contractor group says

Construction employment grew in 250 out of 358 U.S. metropolitan areas in the year ended in April 2019, and might have been higher if more qualified workers were available, a contractors' trade organization said.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, in Arizona, added 16,600 jobs over the period for a 14% gain, the Associated General Contractors of America said in a release, citing federal employment data. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, added 9,200 jobs for a 6% gain; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., added 8,400 jobs for a 6% gain; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga., added 7,000 jobs for a 6% gain; and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., added 6,800 jobs for an 11% gain.

Monroe, Mich., saw a gain of 500 construction jobs, or 26%, in the largest percentage gain, while St. Cloud, Minn., gained 1,500 jobs, or 26%.

Construction employment declined in 53 metro areas and was flat in 55, the organization said.

The metro area with the largest construction job loss over the period was Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, in North Carolina and South Carolina, which shed 2,600 jobs, or 4%. Baton Rouge, La., lost 1,800 jobs, or 3%, while Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn., lost 1,600 jobs, or 8%, and Longview, Texas, lost 1,300 jobs, or 9%.

The largest percent decline was in Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss., which lost 1,200 jobs, or 13%, while Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J., lost 800 jobs, or 13%.

The organization's chief economist, Ken Simonson, said in the release that demand for construction is rising in much of the country, adding that many firms would have hired more employees if they could have. CEO Stephen Sandherr called for improved technical education programs, and for immigration reforms to allow more skilled construction workers to enter the country.

"We have a lot of contractors looking for workers so they can keep up with the amount of work that is out there," he said.