S.C. adds 4,100 construction jobs in 12-month period

South Carolina added 4,100 construction jobs from November 2019 to November 2020, paced by a 9% increase in the Spartanburg metro area and a 4% increase in Columbia.

Nationally, 34% of metro areas added construction jobs for the 12-month period, according to an analysis of federal data (.pdf) by the Associated General Contractors of America released Tuesday. Association officials said contractors are laying off workers once projects begun before the COVID-19 pandemic are completed as private owners and public agencies are reluctant to commit to new construction.

“Canceled and postponed projects appear to be more common than new starts for far too many contractors,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, said in a new release. “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%, of 358 metro areas between November 2019 and November 2020 and was stagnant in 33. Jobs were added in 122 metros, or 44%.

Spartanburg ranked 16th in the country, adding 700 construction, mining and logging workers from 7,800 in November 2019 to 8,500 in November 2020 for 9% growth. Columbia also added 700 workers, going from 17,400 workers to 18,100, for 4% growth.

Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin saw 1% growth (from 19,400 to 19,500), while employment in those industries in Charleston-North Charleston fell by 1% (from 22,100 to 21,900).

Overall, employment in those industries increased 4%, from 113,400 to 117,400, in the state.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost a nation-leading 22,500 construction jobs (9%), while New York City lost 16,700 (11%) mining, logging and construction jobs.

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. added 4,700 construction jobs (3%), followed by Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. with 4,500 mining, logging and construction jobs (5%).

AGC officials warned of continued project cancellations and delays in 2021.

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

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