Boise for the fourth month in a row notched the No. 1 construction job growth rate among the 358 metro areas, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Construction jobs dropped in 20 percent of U.S. metro areas in October.
The Boise metro in October added 4,000 construction jobs from the prior October to reach 22,900, a 21 percent increase, matching the rate of El Centro, Calif., and 4 percentage points ahead of No. 3 Las Vegas, according to AGC’s analysis of federal employment data.
A drive around the Treasure Valley easily confirms that the construction sector is robust, with new projects recently started at Ten Mile Crossing in Meridian and Pioneer Crossing in downtown Boise, where three hotels and a number of apartment/condo projects are racing for the finish line.
Worker availability seems to be easing in the Treasure Valley, said Jay Sonnenberg, development services manager at HC Company, which is building the WestVet Emergency & Specialty Center in Garden City and Independence Indoor Shooting in Meridian.
“We have seen improvement in the subcontractor market in terms of available crews,” Sonnenberg said. “Earlier in the year, subcontractors weren’t able to keep up with construction schedules (because of worker shortages).”
The rest of Idaho lags behind Boise, but throughout this year, all five Idaho metros have nearly always at least stayed flat or gained jobs. This contrasts with 2015 when Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Lewiston regularly recorded construction job losses.
In October, Pocatello saw a 7 percent job gain with 1,000 new jobs to rank No. 51 and Coeur d’Alene had a 4 percent increase with 200 new jobs, ranking No. 121. Idaho Falls and Lewiston both were at zero percent at No. 224.
Construction employment declined or was stagnant in one-third of metro areas between October 2015 and October 2016 as spending on public construction across the country dropped by 2.2 percent during the first nine months of the year.
“There is little doubt that many more construction workers would be earning high wages in metro areas around the country if the public sector were investing more in aging infrastructure,” AGC chief economist Ken Simonson said in a news release.
Boise has had its share of public sector jobs with the decade of Interstate 84 widening and this year’s replacement of the downtown Broadway bridge.