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Private sector construction jobs decrease in San Diego

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Increased private sector work appears to be giving many metropolitan areas a boost in local construction jobs, with 149 of 337 metro areas adding to their workforce between June 2010 and June 2011, the Associated General Contractors association said Tuesday. San Diego doesn't appear to be following the trend.

In a statement released with data gathered during the last year, the association's officials noted that slightly stronger gains seen in some areas are believed to be largely due to growing private sector demand. But they added that a decline in public sector demand is having the opposite impact elsewhere.

Of the regions showing growth, the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro area in Texas led the way with the addition of 5,600 jobs, or a 5 percent increase. The area with the highest percentage of increase was Lake County-Kenosha County area, spanning parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, which added 2,600 jobs for a 20 percent increase. Other top metro areas included Chicago-Joliet-Naperville in Illinois, Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills in Michigan, Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown in Texas and Cincinnati-Middletown in Ohio.

The San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos metro region ranked 262 on the list. The data shows a local job count of 53,400 for June 2010, equaling a 5 percent decrease for the 12-month period.

Brad Barnum, vice president of government relations for Associated General Contractors' San Diego chapter said San Diego's decline is most likely attributable to a continued stagnation of private sector work, noting that many of the organization's local members are reporting few commercial projects.

"In the public works arena, I know Caltrans has a lot of work right now," Barnum said. "I know NAVFAC, the Navy, they have quite a bit of work."

He believes that while the public sector decrease is shrinking payrolls elsewhere, it's still the private sector lag weighing down the local market.

Barnum also cited other Associated General Contractors figures that showed single-family homebuilding down 11 percent in June from the previous year. That sector, he suggested, still looks to be a problem for San Diego.

Markets with the most job losses were the Las Vegas-Paradise area, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, New York City, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario and Philadelphia. The Las Vegas-Paradise area lost a total of 7,000 jobs for a 15 percent decrease.

In their statement, Associated General Contractors officials added they were concerned that the construction industry could continue to suffer more than other sectors with new efforts to cut federal spending, depending on where cuts are made.

"Cutting construction budgets without addressing out of control entitlement spending is a lot like neglecting your leaky roof while you continue to dine out every night," said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, in the statement. "Congress may save some money in the short run, but fixing all that broken, neglected infrastructure is going to cost a lot more later than maintaining it now would."

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