Federal Report Finds Big Loss in Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick Construction Jobs
- Apr 30, 2014
The Arlington-based Associated General Contractors of America released a new analysis of federal employment data with surprising results. Although construction employment increased in most metro areas between March 2013 and March 2014, Maryland’s Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick region lost an important number of jobs.
According to the report, construction employment increased in 197 metro areas, declined in 87 and was stagnant in 55. The state of California was the star performer. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area added the largest number of construction jobs, with 10,000. It was followed by Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, with 9,100 jobs. Texas’ Dallas-Plano-Irving area came in third, with 6,200 jobs.
But Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick is located at the other end of the ranking. Between March 2013 and March 2014, this part of the Washington metropolitan area lost 3,000 jobs, a decrease of 10 percent. Only one other region lost more construction jobs during the same time period: Gary, Ind. Located in the Chicago metropolitan area, Gary lost 5,400 jobs.
“Much of the country experienced relatively robust growth in construction employment during the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in a statement for the press. “But the fact construction employment remains below prior peak levels in most areas shows just how hard hit the industry was during the downturn and how vulnerable it is to disruptions, such as a potential lapse in federal highway funding.”
Association officials also warned that construction employment could suffer if Congress and the Obama administration allow federal highway funding to stop this summer, when the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to reach a zero balance.
“It would be an economic travesty to put thousands out of work and undermine the construction industry’s recovery because Washington officials don’t fix a problem they’ve known about for months,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “This isn’t the kind of summer break hard-working craftsmen and women expect or deserve.”
On April 29, the Obama Administration sent a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan to Congress, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that action is urgently needed, as the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run dry by late August. According to a report by Transportation for America, most states and dozens of metropolitan areas stand to lose the majority of the money they need to maintain and improve their transportation networks if the Highway Trust Fund reaches zero.