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Greater Houston Down 3,300 Construction Jobs From September 2014

Retirements and project delays tied to low oil prices are taking a toll on the building industry’s workforce.

More than a third of all U.S. metro areas lost construction jobs over the past year, according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Greater Houston builders lost 3,300 jobs over the period, the second-biggest total of any U.S. metro area. Fort Worth topped the list with 6,200.

“It’s not a question of a lack of work,” says Brian Turmail, chief spokesman for the contractors’ association. “It’s the fact that you’ve got older workers retiring, and you just don’t have qualified folks to fill those spots.”

Nationwide, construction spending is now growing at its fastest pace since 2006. That, plus the shortage of skilled labor, has pushed unemployment in the sector to a fifteen-year low. Roofers, concrete workers, and electricians are particularly in short supply in Texas.

“But in Fort Worth and in Houston, we do think there’s a little bit of room for concern there, that the market’s softening because the big driver for their economies is not as healthy as it was a year ago,” Turmail says.

Low oil prices have led energy companies to delay or cancel projects in both regions. Still, other Texas metro areas with close ties to the oil sector added construction jobs over the same period. The biggest gains came in San Antonio and Beaumont-Port Arthur.

State construction employment map
State construction employment map

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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