Despite a warmer than normal spring, greater metropolitan Chicago continued to shed construction jobs in April, logging year-over-year declines of 6%, or 6,500 jobs, the greatest such loss in the nation, according to a survey by the Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America.
In all, construction employment declined in 157 out of 337 metropolitan markets between April 2011 and April 2012, and increased or stayed level in 180, according to analysis of federal employment data by AGC.
In addition to Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill., job losses were greatest in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (6,200 jobs); St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (-6,000 jobs); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (-5,400 jobs); and New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. (-4,600 jobs).
“As public investments in infrastructure and other forms of construction continue to decline, construction employment is taking a hit in many parts of the country,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.
Among the latest casualties are Illinois roadways, now that the state has announced a program to slash billions of dollars from highways programs as part of an “austerity transportation plan” it introduced in late April.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meantime, continues to spearhead initiatives to boost construction employment in the metro area. On Tuesday, Emanuel indicated that 14 downtown commercial building owners plan to make their structures more energy efficient, an initiative he says is tied to a larger program seeking private loans to bankroll $225 million in upgrades to municipal buildings.
Emanuel also is seeking to construct additional runways at O'Hare International Airport, though American and United Airlines, O'Hare's two largest carriers, must approve the proposal, since repayment of the bonds required to fund new runways would rely on the landing fees and other charges they generate.