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AGC: Syracuse lost 3,100 construction jobs since 1990

By Journal Staff


SYRACUSE  —  The Syracuse-area construction job market has declined by 21 percent since peaking in 1990, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said this morning at a press conference in the city.

Construction employment in the Syracuse area peaked in December 1990, when 14,600 people worked in the industry, according to a new AGC analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The region lost 3,100 construction jobs since then, with 11,500 workers in the industry as of December 2011.

“Sadly, Syracuse and much of New York have not been immune from the years-long construction downturn that cost so many skilled workers their jobs,” AGC Chief Economist Kenneth Simonson said at the press conference, which the construction-industry trade association held at Milton CAT at 336 Ainsley Drive in Syracuse.

Last year the Syracuse area shed 300 construction, mining, and logging jobs, Simonson said. The region joins several other Upstate areas that experienced peak construction employment in December 1990, including Binghamton, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, and Ithaca.

However, those three regions trail their peak construction employment levels by far less than Syracuse. Binghamton peaked at 4,600 construction workers in 1990 and had 3,700 in December 2011. Buffalo-Niagara Falls had 21,200 construction employees in 1990 and 20,900 at the end of last year, while Ithaca had 1,500 construction workers in 1990 and now has 1,200.

Meanwhile, Utica-Rome experienced peak construction employment in December 2007, when it had 3,800 workers in the field. That region has 2,900 construction workers today.

Construction employment is down across the country, Simonson said. Nationally, 329 of 337 metropolitan areas are currently below their peak construction employment levels, he added.

Simonson spoke in Syracuse as AGC is pushing for Congress to pass a multiyear surface transportation bill to fund highway and transit projects throughout the country. Legislators have been passing short-term transit-funding extenders for two-and-a-half years, he said.

A long-term bill would allow state and local officials to start construction on infrastructure, which would lead to more construction jobs, Simonson said. Not having such legislation is holding back major projects, he added.

“It makes it hard to do long-term planning and actual construction of major projects,” Simonson said.

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