Mixed picture for Florida construction employment; Miami lags while Ft. Lauderdale and Gainesville thrive

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The story about Florida’s construction employment recovery in the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic depends largely on where you are in the state.

Miami, for example, lost 600 construction jobs between November 2020 and November 2021, a 1% decline to 51,500 from 52,100, ranking the metropolitan area 288th in the nation.

Conversely, Fort Lauderdale’s construction employment has boomed, ranking 12th in the nation as it gained 5,700 jobs, a 12% increase to 52,800 jobs. Gainesville also reported a 12% growth.

State-wide, construction employment grew by almost 28,000 jobs, a 5% increase to 585,800.

Construction employment increased in nearly two out of three U.S. metro areas in that period., according to an by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government employment data. Association officials said the job gains were welcome news for the industry but cautioned that it will be difficult for construction levels to return to pre-pandemic levels amid tight labor market conditions.

Here is the data for Florida:

  • Statewide Construction 558,000 585,800 27,800 5%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 563,400 591,400 28,000 5%
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers Mining, Logging, and Construction 34,400 36,400 2,000 6% 83
  • Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,800 7,100 300 4% 134
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,800 15,300 500 3% 164
  • Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Div Construction 47,100 52,800 5,700 12% 12
  • Gainesville Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,000 6,700 700 12% 12
  • Jacksonville Construction 47,200 50,200 3,000 6% 83
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven Mining, Logging, and Construction 15,400 15,600 200 1% 222
  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall Div. Construction 52,100 51,500 -600 -1% 288
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island Mining, Logging, and Construction 17,900 18,600 700 4% 134
  • North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Mining, Logging, and Construction 27,100 28,100 1,000 4% 134
  • Ocala Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,700 9,100 400 5% 109
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Construction 83,100 88,200 5,100 6% 83
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville Mining, Logging, and Construction 16,600 16,800 200 1% 222
  • Panama City Mining, Logging, and Construction 7,000 7,400 400 6% 83
  • Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent Mining, Logging, and Construction 11,800 12,800 1,000 8% 43
  • Port St. Lucie Mining, Logging, and Construction 12,300 13,600 1,300 11% 20
  • Punta Gorda Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,600 4,800 200 4% 134
  • Sebastian-Vero Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,400 5,000 600 14% 8
  • Tallahassee Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,100 8,600 500 6% 83
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Construction 82,400 87,500 5,100 6% 83
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach Div. Construction 37,900 39,900 2,000 5% 109

“It isn’t surprising that construction employment has picked up in most metros over the past year, given the strong economic rebound most of the country has experienced,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But with record job openings in construction, it’s clear that even more metros should be in the plus column if contractors could find the workers they need and get materials delivered on schedule.”

Construction employment increased in 237 or 66 percent of 358 metro areas over the last 12 months. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. added the most construction jobs (7,300 jobs, 10 percent), followed by Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (7,000 jobs, 7 percent); Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. (6,500 jobs, 5 percent); Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass. (6,200 jobs, 8 percent); and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (6,100 jobs, 7 percent). Sioux Falls, S.D. had the highest percentage increase, 19 percent (2,000 jobs). It was followed by three metros with 16 percent increases: Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (3,200 jobs); Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. (800 jobs) and Waterbury, Conn. (500 jobs).

Construction employment declined from a year earlier in 74 metros and was flat in 47. Nassau County-Suffolk County, N.Y. lost the most jobs (-6,300 or -8 percent), followed by Orange-Rockland-Westchester counties, N.Y. (-3,900 jobs, -9 percent); Calvert-Charles-Prince George’s counties, Md. (-2,700 jobs, -8 percent); Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-2,600 jobs, -1 percent) and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. (-2,600 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage declines were in Evansville, Ind.-Ky. (-18 percent, -1,800 jobs); Leominster-Gardner, Mass. (-14 percent, -300 jobs); Anchorage, Alaska (-11 percent, -1,100 jobs); Altoona, Pa. (-10 percent, -300 jobs); and Florence-Muscle Shoals, Ala. (-10 percent, -400 jobs).

Association officials said most construction firms report they are struggling to find enough qualified workers to hire. The officials called on the Biden administration to boost funding for career and technical education to expose more students to construction career opportunities. They noted that federal officials put six dollars into collegiate education and preparation for every dollar they currently invest in career and technical education.

“The gap in federal funding for career and technical education is making it hard for sectors like construction, manufacturing and shipping to find workers interested in those career tracks,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “We are doing everything we can to recruit people into high-paying construction careers but exposing more students to construction skills will certainly help.”

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