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Metro Phoenix leads nation by large margin in construction jobs added

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – Despite a shortage of workers in the field, construction is booming in the Valley unlike anywhere else.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale region added more construction jobs over the last year than any other metro area in the country, according to a report released Wednesday by an industry advocacy association.

“That’s a great thing in terms of the scope of economic development, the scope of infrastructure investments taking place in the Valley,” Brian Turmail, Associated General Contractors of America national spokesman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM after announcing the figures at Haydon Building Corp in Phoenix.

“But it’s happening at a time when most constructions firms – 78% according to our data – tell us they’re having a hard time finding qualified construction workers to hire.”

The Valley added 13,800 construction jobs between March 2018 and March 2019, an increase of 11%.

That total far outpaced the next market, metro Atlanta, which added 7,600 positions.

“In fact, I think what most contractors would tell you is they would have added even more jobs here in Phoenix and many other parts of the country if they could simply find the folks to fill the positions,” Turmail said.

He said he’d like to see federal, state and local governments do more to entice young people into the construction industry.

“We need to see more investment in what’s called career and technical education – what most of us grew up knowing as vocational education,” he said.

“That provides a base set of skills for young adults that will help them be attractive candidates in construction, but, more important, it sends a clear signal to high school students that construction ought to at least be on that menu of career opportunities to consider.”

The Valley had 171,200 construction workers in March, according to Phoenix’s Community and Economic Development Department.

While that’s more than double the total from 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, it still trails the peak of 177,300 in 2007.

The region’s economy has reduced its dependence on construction since then, which is a good thing, according to Eric Jay Toll, communications manager for the department.

“Jobs in manufacturing, technology, financial services … and health care are more stable, pay better and are recession resistant,” Toll told KTAR News.

Those four fields made up 45% of the area’s jobs in 2007; that was up to 61% this March.

Over that time, construction’s share fell from 8.6% to 5.9%.

“Construction is no longer a major indicator of the Valley workforce,” Toll said.

“It has plenty of good-paying jobs, but it now serves the economy, it doesn’t lead the economy.”

Led by the Phoenix-area growth, Arizona ranked fourth nationally with 16,800 construction jobs added over the last year, trailing only Texas, California and Florida, according to a report released last month by the contractors association.

Arizona’s 10.8% increase ranked fifth.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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