By Reshma Kirpalani
For Reporting Texas and KUT News
The construction industry, hit especially hard by the 2008 recession, continues to struggle in a spotty recovery. But there are some bright spots in Texas.
A survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America on Monday shows stagnant employment rates in the construction industry throughout the nation. The survey, conducted from October 2010 to this past October, found that construction jobs declined in 146 of 337 metropolitan areas while gains were seen in the other half. But Brian Turmail, the association’s vice president of communications, said that a slight increase in construction jobs in the private sector is being neutralized by a lack of financing options in the public sector.
“The federal government is years late in passing a number of key infrastructure bills — bills that set funding levels for investing in new water systems, in airport construction,” Turmail said. “And that’s really making it difficult for state and local officials to finance and then to plan the kind of construction projects that relieve traffic in Austin or elsewhere.”
Compared with other states, the construction industry in Texas is faring pretty well, with a 3 percent increase in jobs statewide. The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area added more than 5,000 construction jobs in the past year, more than any other metro area. In Austin, 1,800 jobs were added.
“The industry took a downturn a couple of years in general, along with a downturn in the economy,” said Crisco Hobbs, vice president of Rogers-O’Brien Construction, a building contractor with offices in Dallas and Austin. “But we’re recently seeing this year specifically an improvement, a slow improvement that we hope continues into next year.”