Statewide Florida construction employment declines modestly in past year despite COVID-19 crisis

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Despite the pain and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 especially for the tourism and hospitality sectors, overall Florida’s construction employment levels for the 12 months ending in August have not fared so badly.

Data compiled from the US Department of Labor by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) indicates that statewide employment declined by only about 1 percent, or 2,900, and that several metropolitan areas experienced a net growth in construction jobs in the year.

For example, the small market area of Panama City showed a 12 percent gain, causing it to rank as the sixth most healthy construction market in the nation, with a gain of 800 construction, mining and logging jobs to 7,700. (In smaller markets, mining and logging are lumped in with construction in the overall totals.)

Conversely, some markets such as Fort Lauderdale fared poorly — that market area experienced an 11 percent decline to 44,600 jobs, a loss of 5,400 jobs.

Here is the data by metropolitan area listed by area, industry, employment numbers for August 2019, numbers for Aug. 2020, the 12-month gain or loss, the percentage change and the area’s ranking nationally.

  • Statewide Construction 569,100 566,200 -2,900 -1%
  • Statewide Mining, Logging, and Construction 574,800 571,800 -3,000 -1%
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers Mining, Logging, and Construction 32,800 33,700 900 3% 43
  • Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,900 7,000 100 1% 67
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,300 14,500 200 1% 67
  • Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach Div.Construction 50,000 44,600 -5,400 -11% 278
  • Gainesville Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,100 6,300 200 3% 43
  • Jacksonville Construction 46,600 46,800 200 0% 85
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven Mining, Logging, and Construction 14,500 15,500 1,000 7% 18
  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall Div. Construction 53,900 54,600 700 1% 67
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island Mining, Logging, and Construction 17,600 18,500 900 5% 27
  • North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Mining, Logging, and Construction 26,400 26,200 -200 -1% 118
  • Ocala Mining, Logging, and Construction 8,600 9,200 600 7% 18
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Construction 87,100 84,300 -2,800 -3% 147
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville Mining, Logging, and Construction 15,600 16,600 1,000 6% 22
  • Panama City Mining, Logging, and Construction 6,900 7,700 800 12% 6
  • Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent Mining, Logging, and Construction 12,400 12,400 0 0% 89
  • Port St. Lucie Mining, Logging, and Construction 12,200 13,200 1,000 8% 14
  • Punta Gorda Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,300 4,300 0 0% 89
  • Sebastian-Vero Beach Mining, Logging, and Construction 4,500 4,400 -100 -2% 133
  • Tallahassee Mining, Logging, and Construction 9,100 9,400 300 3% 43
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Construction 81,100 82,500 1,400 2% 55
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach Div. Construction 39,300 38,800 -500 -1% 118

Nationally, construction employment decreased in 241, or 67 percent, out of 358 metro areas between August 2019 and last month, AGC reported on Oct. 1. Association officials urged Congress to pass new coronavirus relief measures before leaving town.

“Although residential construction is picking up in many areas, public and nonresidential construction are shrinking,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Project cancellations are spreading, and fewer new projects are starting up. That combination makes further employment declines inevitable unless the federal government steps up support for infrastructure.”

Simonson noted that construction employment was stagnant in 29 metro areas and increased in only 88 areas (25 percent) over the past 12 months. Nineteen metros had all-time lows for August construction employment, while 33 areas had record highs for August, in data going back to 1990 for most areas.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas lost the most construction jobs over 12 months (-22,800 jobs, -10 percent), followed by New York City (-21,700 jobs, -13 percent). Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Mass. had the largest percentage decline (-38 percent, -2,200 jobs), followed by Johnstown, Pa. (-34 percent, -1,000 jobs).

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. added the most construction jobs from August 2019 to August 2020 (4,800 jobs, 9 percent), followed by Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. (4,300 jobs, 5 percent). Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich. had the highest percentage increase (16 percent, 400 jobs), followed by Fond du Lac, Wisc. (15 percent, 500 jobs) and Walla Walla, Wash. (15 percent, 100 jobs).

Association officials urged Congressional leaders to not leave town until after the election without passing much-needed new coronavirus relief measures. In particular, the construction officials called on Congress to pass new liability protections for firms that are taking steps to protect workers from the coronavirus. They also urged Congressional leaders to boost investments in infrastructure and pass measures designed to preserve payrolls.

“The coronavirus and efforts to mitigate its spread have left our economy deeply wounded, depressing demand for many types of commercial construction projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress can end the downward economic slide and help create needed new construction jobs by passing measures to boost demand and protect honest employers.”

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

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