Metro Phoenix added more new construction jobs during the past year than all but two other metro areas as employment in the local industry hit a 4-year high, according to an analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials noted, however, that the local construction industry employs less than half the people it did six years ago, and that at current rates of growth, it would take over a decade to return to 2006 levels.
“For an areas that was once the poster child for the construction downturn, Phoenix is finally heading in the right direction,” said Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Make no mistake, though, this area’s construction workforce is still just a fraction of what it was six years ago.”
Turmail said that Metro Phoenix added 6,300 construction jobs between August 2011 and August 2012, a 7% increase. He added that, out of the 337 metro areas the association tracks, only the Los Angeles and Houston areas added more construction jobs during the same time. There are 90,800 people working in construction in Metro Phoenix today, up from 84,500 a year ago.
Even though Metro Phoenix is adding new construction jobs, however, the years-long construction downturn that hit the Valley and the rest of the state has still eliminated more than half the construction jobs that existed in the area in 2006.
Turmail noted that Phoenix has lost 94,000 construction jobs since August 2006, a 51% decline. He added that across Arizona, over half of the 244,300 construction jobs that existed in June 2006 have disappeared.
The spokesman said that Phoenix was not alone in adding construction jobs during the past year. He noted that Tucson added 300 construction jobs during the past year, a 2% increase, while Yuma added 100, a 5% increase.
Nationwide, 130 out of 337 metro areas added new construction jobs between August 2011 and August 2012. But he cautioned that 164 metro areas lost construction jobs during the same time period while employment levels were stagnant in another 43 areas.
Turmail announced the new employment figures during a visit to a local construction career fair, where firms are working to encourage residents to consider construction careers. The industry association spokesman noted that construction work is a skills-based profession that requires training and practice.
He said that was why the association was working with its statewide building chapter, the Arizona Builders’ Alliance, and other groups to push education officials to support skills-based education programs locally and across the country.
“These programs give students another path to success by allowing them to learn essential skills while using their hands,” Turmail noted. “And they prepare them for the high-paying construction jobs that local firms are working to fill.”