Construction employment continues to fall in California cities
Construction employment continued to slump in most of California's metropolitan areas in July, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Employment fell 11% in Fresno in July from the same month the previous year. It dropped 5% in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and 4% in San Francisco.
Nationally, it increased in 136 out of 337 metro areas between July 2010 and July 2011, including Chicago, Houston and Detroit. The Chicago metro area added 12,900 jobs, increasing employment 11% over the year.
The construction industry was especially hard-hit by the recession, and advocates worry that it will continue to slump as local and state governments cut back on infrastructure improvements. Stimulus projects, which gave the industry a lifeline during the recession, have all but dried up.
"The big worry for construction workers is that private demand will again slip while governments continue to cut back on infrastructure investments," said Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America.
Demand for homes isn't likely to pick up anytime soon. Home prices are at 2003 levels, and when adjusted for seasonality, remain essentially flat, according to the Case-Shiller index, released Tuesday. That's why construction groups like the AGC are urging governments to spend more on infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy, despite budget deficits.
-- Alana Semuels
Photo: A construction worker stands on a new home in Riverside County. Credit: Alana Semuels/Los Angeles Times