Lafayette is the only city in the state to experience growth in construction jobs from January 2009 to January this year and one of only a handful across the country. Lafayette gained 100 jobs during that period, ranking ninth among 337 metro areas included in a new analysis of federal employment figures released Thursday by the Associated General Contractors of America. In January the Lafayette metro (Lafayette and St. Martin parishes) showed 7,100 people employed in the construction sector, a 1 percent increase over a year ago. During the past 12 months, Lake Charles lost 2,200, New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner lost 1,500, and Baton Rouge fell by 1,200. Across the state, construction jobs dipped by 8,500.

Although small, the local increase is significant, as Lafayette is one of only nine of the 337 metros analyzed to post a gain.

The figures underscore just how hard hit the construction industry has been nationwide, association officials noted, as well as the need for new investments in infrastructure and tax incentives designed to stimulate private sector demand.

“It’s difficult to imagine that many regions will bounce back when so many construction workers are unemployed,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Worse, with virtually every city suffering significant construction job losses, there’s nowhere to hide from what is clearly a construction depression.”

Simonson noted that Phoenix, Ariz., again lost more construction jobs (27,600) than any other city in America. Steubenville, Ohio/Weirton, W.V., experienced the largest percentage decline in construction employment (44 percent, 1,600 jobs), followed by Grand Junction, Colo. (34 percent, 3,400 jobs); Las Vegas, Nev. (32 percent, 24,500 jobs); Napa, Calif. (32 percent, 1,100 jobs); and Santa Cruz, Calif. (31 percent, 1,100 jobs.)

Eau Claire, Wisc., added the most construction jobs (500) and experienced the largest percentage increase (23 percent). Other cities adding construction jobs included Ithaca, N.Y. (9 percent, 100 jobs); Michigan City, Indiana (6 percent, 100 jobs); Waterbury, Conn. (5 percent, 100 jobs); and Grand Forks, N.D./East Grand Forks, Minn. (5 percent, 100 jobs).

The construction economist noted that 230 metro areas experienced double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment while no city experienced a double-digit increase. Meanwhile, 18 cities nationwide lost more than 10,000 construction jobs between January 2009 and 2010.

View construction employment by state and ranking here.

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