Mixed picture locally as overall California construction employment declines in the year by 3%

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The story about construction employment during the COVID-19 pandemic in California depends on where you live and work.

According to US Labor Department data compiled and analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), for example, the situation is much more dire in Oakland than it is in Los Angeles.

Oakland-Hayward-Berkley lost 8,400 jobs, or 11 per cent of its employees, in the year between November, 2019 and 2020. Conversely, if you happened to be in Napa, there was a 9 percent employment gain, representing the sixteenth highest growth in the nation by percentage. (Of course, in the much smaller market, only 400 new employees were added, and these could include some in logging.).

Statewide, construction employment declined by 23,000 or 3% to 869,700 from 892,700.

Here is a detailed list by market area.The numbers represent employment in November 2019, 2020, the actual gain/loss, the percentage change, and the national ranking.

Statewide Construction 892,700 869,700 -23,000 -3%
Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 915,400 891,400 -24,000 -3%
Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Construction 105,500 107,200 1,700 2% 86
Bakersfield Construction 16,800 15,700 -1,100 -7% 248
Chico Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,400 4,100 -300 -7% 248
El Centro Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,000 1,900 -100 -5% 226
Fresno Construction 19,100 18,300 -800 -4% 205
Hanford-Corcoran Mining, Logging, and Construction 1,000 1,000 0 0% 123
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Construction 150,200 147,100 -3,100 -2% 175
Madera Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,000 2,000 0 0% 123
Merced Mining, Logging, and Construction 2,700 2,700 0 0% 123
Modesto Mining, Logging, and Construction 10,600 10,200 -400 -4% 205
Napa Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,500 4,900 400 9% 16
Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley Construction 77,300 68,900 -8,400 -11% 296
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura Construction 17,500 17,500 0 0% 123
Redding Mining, Logging Construction 4,000 3,900 -100 -3% 186
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Construction 105,300 107,300 2,000 2% 86
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade Construction 68,800 65,900 -2,900 -4% 205
Salinas Construction 6,600 6,500 -100 -2% 175
San Diego-Carlsbad Construction 84,000 86,000 2,000 2% 86
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco Construction 43,200 39,500 -3,700 -9% 274
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara Construction 52,900 51,400 -1,500 -3% 186
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,500 7,600 -900 -11% 296
San Rafael Construction 7,800 7,600 -200 -3% 186
Santa Cruz-Watsonville Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,600 4,700 100 2% 86
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara Construction 9,000 9,500 500 6% 31
Santa Rosa Construction 17,500 16,600 -900 -5% 226
Stockton-Lodi Construction 13,300 12,900 -400 -3% 186
Vallejo-Fairfield Construction 13,300 12,800 -500 -4% 205
Visalia-Porterville Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,400 6,800 400 6% 31
Yuba City Mining, Logging, and Construction 3,200 2,800 -400 -13% 312

Nationally, only 34 percent of the nation’s metro areas—just over one-third—added construction jobs from November 2019 to November 2020, AGCA reported. Association officials said large numbers of contractors are having to lay off workers once they complete projects begun before the pandemic because private owners and public agencies are hesitant to commit to new construction.

“Canceled and postponed projects appear to be more common than new starts for far too many contractors,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Our association’s 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Survey found three times more contractors have experienced postponements and cancellations than new or expanded projects.”

Construction employment fell in 203, or 57 percent, of 358 metro areas between November 2019 and November 2020. Construction employment was stagnant in 33 additional metro areas, while only 122 metro areas—34 percent—added construction jobs during the past year.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost the most construction jobs over that span (-22,500 jobs, -9 percent), followed by New York City (-16,700 jobs, -11 percent); Midland, Texas (-9,800 jobs, -25 percent); Montgomery-Bucks-Chester counties, Pa. (-8,800 jobs, -16 percent); and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif. (-8,400 jobs, -11 percent). Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. had the largest percentage decline (-40 percent, -2,200 jobs), followed by Altoona, Pa. (-35 percent, -1,100 jobs); Bloomsburg-Berwick, Pa. (-31 percent, -400 jobs); Johnstown, Pa. (-31 percent, -800 jobs); and East Stroudsburg, Pa. (-30 percent, -600 jobs).

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. added the most construction jobs over the year (4,700 jobs, 3 percent), followed by Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (4,500 jobs, 5 percent); Boise, Idaho (4,300 jobs, 16 percent); Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (3,700 jobs, 2 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (3,600 jobs, 3 percent). Walla Walla, Wash. had the highest percentage increase (17 percent, 200 jobs), followed by Boise; Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisc. (16 percent, 900 jobs); and Springfield, Mo. (16 percent, 1,500 jobs).

Association officials said many metro areas were likely to lose more construction jobs amid declining demand and continued project cancellations and delays. They added that a clearer picture of what is in store for the industry will emerge on Thursday, January 7, when the association releases the 2021 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook it prepared with Sage.

“Construction employment is likely to fall further in many parts of the country as the coronavirus continues to weigh on demand for nonresidential projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Unless market conditions change rapidly, this year is likely to prove very challenging for many construction employers.”

View the metro employment 12-month , , , , .

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