Texas construction jobs are up, but Houston region sees losses

Construction employment in Texas saw its best, while Houston saw its worst. 

Construction worker at Trammel Fresno Road wears a wide straw hat and a light-colored  long sleeve to keep cool during peak heat hours.
Daisy Espinoza / Houston Public Media

A new report by the Associated General Contractors of America shows that construction jobs are on the rise with Texas being one of the top states leading the construction industry with over 21,000 jobs added this past year.

But a new report by AGCA showed that the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land area had their worst year, after they lost more than 6,000 construction employees this past year.

Ken Simonson, the chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, said the climb in construction employment could be due to the rise in people and businesses moving to Texas.

The statewide increase in construction employment indicates how vibrant the Texas economy is, Simonson said, and it has been attracting huge numbers of people migrating from other states, and across the border. That creates demand for housing and consumer services.

"There's also a lot of businesses that have been moving here or expanding in Texas. But it is not happening uniformly," Simonson said. "Houston historically has had a much-volatile economy because it’s quite closely tied to the oil and gas industry."

Simonson also said the oil and gas industry in Houston has not been steady and that could result from the decline in employment, even though Houston was leading the country in the number of construction jobs added last year, Simonson said.

"So there are big swings up and down in employment that's associated with the oil and gas industry, including construction of major facilities," he said.

A different survey done by the organization said it is often that candidates lack the skills needed.

"The long-term issue has been the decline in support for career and technical education and so many high schools have abandoned the kind of alt choices that students once had, on what sort of career path to follow," Simonson said.

The construction industry has been working with schools and community colleges to bring back the programs that would allow students to look at non-college career paths. A career in construction pays well, but despite that the industry is struggling to bring more workers in, he said. "Historically the industry paid 20% more than the typical so-called production job or a non-supervisory job and you can also get into a well-paying constructor job right out of high school and have a good career track. But right now those appeals are not enough to keep the construction pipeline full," Simonson said.